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MARCH 2018


Healthy Moms Healthy Babies Healthy Families | 239.275.5522

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Color the PPC Pals, then bring them into your doctor’s office where we will display them, or use to decorate in your own home. | 239.275.5522 SOUTHWEST FLORIDA PARENT & CHILD » MARCH 2018 » 3

Barbra J. Reed, D.M.D., M.S., P.A. Specialist in Orthodontics • Braces for Children & Adults

• New and Transfer Patients Welcome • Low Monthly Payments • Most Insurance Plans Accepted




contents »






In Every Issue

31 she’s got heart Naples child sets record with mechanical heart device

33 spring fun

U-pick farms are an educational adventure for kids

29 teens Sheriff’s offices teach teens to drive like the pros

19 single parenting

Cool ideas to kick off your summer camp search

43 safety corner

Planning the future takes sacrifice today

On the cover

Classes teach mental health first aid and parenting strategies

20 in the kitchen

Sisters Riley Summerall, 10, and Taylor Summerall, 15, are the daughters of Tiffany and Greg Summerall, of Cape Coral. They’re on location at the Calusa Nature Center & Planetarium. .COM

27 kid stuff

How to initiate a parenting reset

What’s going on in the gardens at Lakes Park?

37 summer camp


a mother’s view

17 ask the expert

Where to find egg hunts, spring festivals and more



How to go vegetarian (or at least eat more meatless meals)

47 travel Get lost in Atlantis, a paradise playground for familiess

23 dining out Patio Cafe in Naples a great option for families

MARCH 20 18

57 voices Mom fears losing her Identity as she embarks on motherhood

25 youth sports


You don’t have to be a slave to the sport

58 a father’s view Old friends enrich our lives

Other Departments 7 8 11 13

editor’s note online me time 5 things

14 44 50 51

fyi family album around town calendar


Part Time & Full Time Options

• Infant (0-18 months) $1,250/monthly • Toddler (18-36 months) $460 - $1,055/monthly • Preschool & Kindergarden (3-6 years) $450 - $990/monthly

Enrichment Classes Offered

• Music Together • Piano • Suzuki Violin • Yoga Gardening & Fruit Picking • Redirecting Children’s Behavior Parent

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To Learn More Visit Us At or call 239.308.0042 2151 Crystal Drive, Fort Myers, Florida 33907 (In the Villas, near College Blvd. & US41)


parent &child

editor's note »



Part of the USA TODAY Network

Volume 19, Issue 3 Dedicated to serving the families of Lee and Collier counties 2442 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Fort Myers, FL 33901 Annual subscriptions are $24.95 for shipping & handling. Email President & Publisher William R. Barker General Manager Kathryn Robinson Kinsey Editor Pamela Smith Hayford (239) 335-0448 Art Director Lindi Daywalt-Feazel

Editorial Contributors Maisy Adams, Echo Copeland, David Dorsey, Jim Dwyer, Liz Freeman, Richard Keelan, Kira Lewis, Janis B. Meredith, Francine Wolfe Schwartz, Andrea Stetson, Leigh Tahirovic, Jennifer Thomas Photographer Amanda Inscore Vice President/Advertising Sales Nancy M. Solliday Specialty Publications Team Coordinator Dennis Wright Advertising Account Executive Nicole Holey (239) 281-6455

That time of year You can feel it. The hot sun lingers a little longer. Our clocks are springing ahead (Daylight Savings Time begins March 11). It’s time to start registering the kids for summer camp. Whether your kids need a watchful eye while you work or enrichment over the long school break, there are summer camps for all ages, stages and interests. My son, who’s now on the cusp of 16, always loved the arts camps at the Alliance for the Arts, the fun program at the IMAG History & Science Center and the nature camps at the Calusa Nature Center & Planetarium. There are lots of great options, so we’ve compiled a list to get you started (page 37). If your children are getting to the age of driving, like my son, check out our feature on the teen driving program the local sheriff ’s offices do each month (page 29). The kids learn a lot about defensive driving, and parents walk away amazed. It’s free, and you can easily sell the idea to your kids by explaining that the instructors will teach them some of the same maneuvers professional racecar drivers use. (I want to take the course, too!) All this talk of summer and teen driving, you’d almost think we forgot about spring break. Never fear. You can find plenty of things to do over the week-long holiday in our calendar section (page 51), and check out our travel piece (page 47). Atlantis in the Bahamas isn’t all that far away, and it offers so much fun for the kids, you’ll never want to leave. Plus, many of the organizations that offer summer camps also offer spring break camps. Enjoy the cool evenings while you still can. Summer is coming.

Distribution (239) 335-0211 Southwest Florida Parent & Child is a FREE publication distributed at more than 500 locations throughout Southwest Florida by The News-Press Media Group. All rights reserved. We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information published but cannot be held responsible for any consequences arising from omissions or errors. Any opinions expressed by writers and advertisers are not necessarily opinions of the magazine or publisher.

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» online Get the latest event information and family news every day at

How to have a fun spring break

More family events

Woohoo! Spring break is here — the week of March 12 for Collier County Public Schools, the week of March 19 for Lee County and the week of April 2 for Charlotte. Now you need something to do. Check in with us online and through social media for ideas and event information.

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Kira Lewis of Cape Coral is mom to two children, a writer and founder of and


How to reset a parenting mistake

had just gotten my younger child from the bus stop and was rushing home to finish a project that was on a deadline. As I hurried in the door and was heading to my office, she asked if it was OK for her to have a snack and watch a TV show. I nodded in her direction absentmindedly and then settled back down to work. When I finally came up for air two hours later and realized it was time to make dinner, I discovered my daughter was still sitting in front of the TV. I wish I could tell you this was the first time this had happened, but it had become a fairly frequent occurrence over the last few months. Plus, the slide on the tech usage in my household wasn’t just happening with my daughter. I’d also been allowing my son pretty unrestricted time limits on the Xbox and his gaming apps. The whole situation was incredibly frustrating, and I kept beating myself up about it. Everything was so off track, but I just kept shrugging my shoulders instead of trying to fix it. “Why even bother?” or “It’s too late now, the damage is done,” I kept saying to myself, trying to justify my inaction. I also knew it was going to mean a big battle with my kids. They were loving this new, more lenient way of life in our household. Since I was already feeling overwhelmed, the idea of throwing down with my kids wasn’t exactly appealing. I successfully avoided the showdown for a little bit longer, but then I began to see my kids attempting to push other boundaries. It was sort of like, “Well, if Mom is letting me get away with all this



a mother’s view »

extra tech time, I wonder what else I can get away with…?” That’s when I knew things were officially out of hand. I was the adult, and it was time I did some adulting. Mom was back in the house, and things were about to get real. I pulled in reinforcements, and one night after dinner, my husband and I told the kids it was time to have a have a family talk. And this is what I told my kids. “You know what, Mom and Dad screwed up.” Yep, I totally sold us out to our kids. But it was the truth. I went on to explain that parents aren’t perfect, and sometimes they make mistakes. We were sure this wasn’t going to be the last time, not by a long shot. But it’s important when you make a mistake to own the responsibility for it and to try to make it right.

We had made rules, and then we stopped enforcing them. Our bad. My kids looked relieved but skeptical. They knew it couldn’t be this easy. They were right. We also let them know that they were taking advantage. They were old enough to know the rules, and they shouldn’t need us to constantly hover all the time telling them when to turn off the TV or get off the computer. So, just in case they’d forgotten, we went back over the tech time rules. This was so we could all get on the same page. Then we declared a “reset.” Yes, we can do that as parents. In today’s world, it’s easy (and common) for families to get blown off course. But once we realize we’re headed in the wrong direction, it’s never too late to turn the ship around.


OPEN FOR COLLIER COUNTY’S SPRING BREAK March 10 - 18, 2018 Sunny the Turtle invites you to enjoy Sun-N-Fun Lagoon!

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Integrated curriculum blending STEM, history, and the arts in NEW themed weekly sessions for rising 1st-8th graders

Spring Break March 19th - 23nd Summer Break June 4th - August 9th Jr. Camp Assistant Training Program for grades 9-12

Register online at NOTE: Active members receive a $50 discount for each week of camp, so become a member today and SAVE!


me time »

Keep cool, sports parents Parents of little athletes in Southwest Florida spend a lot of time on the sidelines in the hot sun. We have a few ideas for keeping your cool.

Sittin’ pretty Sweaty seats be gone. The Traveling Breeze fan-cooled folding chair has two quiet high-flow fans built into the chair to give you a breeze on your shoulders, back and neck. Runs on four D batteries. $49.99 at all Sunshine Ace Hardware locations.

Portable packhorse Still carrying everything on your shoulders? Stop the insanity now. The Coleman Camp Wagon can carry up to 150 pounds on its steel frame. And it folds up, making it easy to store or keep in the car. $99.99 at

Protect your skin



The sun can take a toll on skin. But you have lots of excuses not to wear it: make up, sweat, inconvenience. The Clear Stick UV Protector WetForce SPF 50+ actually gets stronger when you sweat or get wet. And it can go on under or over makeup. No excuses now. $28 for the 15-gram size at

Champion of coolers The power of a Yeti in a soft-side carry cooler. The Yeti Hopper Two 20 keeps ice for days with its Coldcell foam insulation. Dryhide shell makes it durable. Hydrolok zipper makes it leak-proof. Plus, the liner is food-grade, anti-microbial and mildew resistant. 18-can capacity. $299.99 at all Sunshine Ace Hardware locations.

Take in some pro ball and gourmet goodies at a Red Sox spring training game. JetBlue Park added to its food fare Miami’s Ice Goddess, which offers all natural or organic slushes, both virgin and nonvirgin, and Fine Folk’s handcrafted, artisan pizza. Last games of spring training are against the Chicago Cubs on March 26 and 27. SOUTHWEST FLORIDA PARENT & CHILD » MARCH 2018 » 11

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5 things »

GEAR UP FOR A Find your way Every outdoorsman/woman needs a compass to always point true north and get them safely home. This Backyard Safari field compass comes equipped with an LED signaling light, Morse code guide and a magnifying glass (great for identifying finds along the way), all on a handy carabiner clip. Field guide included. For ages 5 and older. $17.99 at Amazon and Toys R Us.

CAMPOUT For your next trip to the great outdoors, make sure your little ones are equipped for adventure.

Light the night A trusty lantern is a must-have item for campers of any age. With just three AA batteries, the Energizer LED Lantern packs a big glow. $19.99 at all Sunshine Ace Hardware locations.

Look closer These toy binoculars are made for little hands. The Bass Pro Shops Maxx Action Hunting Series binoculars feature 6x35 magnification, breakaway safety strap and a built-in compass. For ages 5 and older. $14.99 at Bass Pro Shops and

Get to know nature Part field guide, part scrapbook, “Hello Nature: Draw, Color, Make and Grow” explains the natural world, such as how to tell a moth from a butterfly or how to identify a leaf or seashell. The book also encourages its owner to document findings with activities such as leaf rubbings or sketching a bug. $17.95 at Also available at Amazon, Target and Barnes & Noble.

Ward off bugs Whether your next camping trip is in the cool mountains of northern Georgia or the swamps of Florida, you’ll need mosquito protection. This mosquito-repellant wristband for kids promises up to 15 days of protection per refill. It uses natural essential oils rather than harsh chemicals to keep bugs at bay. $19.50 at Also available at Target, Walmart, Whole Foods and other specialty stores.


« fyi Free tax help If your family income was less than $66,000 in 2017, you could get free tax filing services. The United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee provides free Volunteer Income Tax Assistance at 15 locations with IRS-certified volunteers. United Way of Collier County also offers the VITA service. To schedule an appointment in Lee, Hendry, Glades or Okeechobee counties, visit unitedwaylee. org/freetaxprep or call United Way 211 by dialing 2-1-1 or 239-4333900. In Collier County, visit Last year, VITA served 3,900 individuals and families in the five-county area, resulting in $5.7 million in refunds and saving each family an average of $200 in tax preparation fees. The deadline to file your tax return is April 17. People who prefer to do it themselves can also go through United Way free at

Half-cent sales tax Later this year, voters will be asked to decide whether to raise the Lee County sales tax by a half cent to fund the construction of new schools and other educational needs in the public schools. To help voters learn more about where that money would be spent, where it can’t be spent, the wording of the referendum, myth vs. fact and more, the Lee County School District launched a website to answer all your questions: change-for-change. You can also keep up-to-date on the issue by following The News-Press at and on Facebook and Twitter.

Climb on up As part of WINK Playland’s recent remodel at Miromar Outlets, the Rock Climbing FunWalls are now open and ready for climbing. All ages are welcome to climb, even adults. Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Cost is $10 per person for one hour or $15 for two hours. Miromar Outlets is at 10801 Corkscrew Road, Estero.

New at the zoo Three black and white colobus monkeys, a dad and his boys, moved into the Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens this winter. You can see them on the Primate Expedition Cruise, a boat ride around the islands where they now live. See if you can tell who is who: The dad, 9-year-old Hasani, weighs 32 pounds. Mally is the oldest boy at 4 years old and weighs 23 pounds. Kito is the baby of the bunch at 3 years old and 17 pounds.


Local scholarships available


» The Uncommon Friends Foundation is accepting applications for its 2018 scholarships, which are awarded to local people pursuing degrees in education, law, technology, healthcare and other studies. Applicants must live in Lee, Charlotte, Collier, Glades or Hendry counties, need financial assistance, excel in school or life and possess high quality character traits. Eligible individuals include veterans, single parents and the disabled. Deadline for nominations is April 1. To apply, visit opportunities. » The “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge is offering some 14 scholarships of roughly $1,000 to $1,500. High school seniors, college students and graduate students in or from Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties pursuing a degree in environmental studies are eligible. Deadline is March 31. Get details and application at

Need help to get the family pet spayed or neutered? PAWS Lee County Inc., a nonprofit spay and neuter clinic in North Fort Myers, is providing 215 low-income pet owners with free or subsidized spay-neuter services thanks to a recent grant of $10,000 from the Bissell Pet Foundation. Get details at

Lice clinic is back in business Lice Clinics of America ( recently announced its Bonita Springs location is back open after flooding from Hurricane Irma forced it to close temporarily. The clinic is at 8881 Terrene Court, Bonita Springs.

100 things to do in Fort Myers and Sanibel If anyone knows all the great things there are to do in our area, it might be Nancy Hamilton. She worked in journalism at the Naples Daily News and then worked many years at the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau and The Chamber of Southwest Florida. Her latest book title tells it all: “100 Things to Do in Fort Myers & Sanibel Before You Die.” $16 wherever books are sold.


« fyi


What’s the Digital Age doing to our kids?

Membership has its perks The Everglades Wonder Gardens announced a new membership deal that gets its members free or reduced admission to more than 300 other gardens, arboreta and conservatories. It’s great for families who travel, but there are local perks, too. Participating attractions include the Edison & Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida and Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Naples. Get details at

The David Lawrence Center’s fifth annual Sound Minds Mental Health Symposium in Naples aims to explore the impact of the Digital Age on children’s mental health. The event features the awardwinning documentary “Screenagers” followed by discussion with Executive Producer Lisa Tabb. The symposium, which is appropriate for ages 10 and older, is 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 24 at Moorings Presbyterian Church in Naples. Then from 5 to 7 p.m., VIP ticketholders can meet the speaker and enjoy wine and hors d’oeuvres with live music. There is a $10 suggested donation for the symposium and $125 tickets for the VIP reception. Get details at davidlawrencecenter. org or call 239-354-1445.

Teacher living on Marco Island pens book Carol Doumlele was a teacher for 37 years, and she loved creating stories for her students. Now that she’s retired and living on Marco Island, she’s putting the stories into print. “The Stranger’s Magic Stick” is $24 at bookstore.



Take a trip back in time to discover what these creatures were all about! Discover 10 life-size animatronic dinosaurs on display, uncover your inner-paleontologist at the fossil dig, and snap a pic at the dinosaur photo station. Roaring Daily! 9am-5pm February 17 - June 3, 2018 Regular Garden admission 4820 Bayshore Drive, Naples, FL / 239.643.7275





ask the expert »

B is for basil Have you been wondering about the construction near the train playground at Lakes Park? Well, here’s your answer. BY PAMELA HAYFORD


here are people who want the kids of Southwest Florida to have more than playgrounds and sterile indoor entertainment. These folks want to create a place where kids can get dirty and reconnect with nature in a way that often seems lost these days. They’re building the Children’s Garden at Lakes Regional Park in south Fort Myers. The Lakes Park Enrichment Foundation, the county and numerous sponsors have already put the infrastructure in place. There’s a welcoming archway touting the entrance to the Children’s Garden. A fence serves to corral the kids away from

traffic. And small raised gardens here and there sprout bright flowers and young tomato plants. A turtle sculpture welcomes climbers. The Story Walk takes children through the pages of a book along a path and engages them with activities along the way. Plans are underway, however, for much more. The first phase, a $54,000 undertaking, was nearly done by mid-February: A brick walkway around a large raised bed with a serpentine shape, the ABC Garden. The soil and drip irrigation were all in place awaiting the stars of the ABC Garden, plants that represent each letter of the alphabet. It’s the first of a four-phase plan.

Rylee Carroll, 4, is one of the Children’s Garden’s biggest fans. She’s the granddaughter of Wendi Carroll, an executive board member and chair of the children’s garden committee. She loves to help her grandmother water the raised gardens.


« ask the expert (continued) S U N S C R E E N A N D H AT S A R E A LWAY S

Before they run off to summer camp or the beach, be sure to remind your kids about proper protection for their skin. That begins with applying sunscreen with a broad-spectrum SPF of 30 or higher every morning, and reapplying it every two hours, especially if they’re in the water or breaking a sweat. Wearing a hat and minimizing sun exposure also helps prevent sunburn. Teach your child this simple rhyme: To have lots of fun in the Florida sun, putting on sunscreen is priority one!

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Eventually, there will be gardens called Pollination Station, the Sun Garden and Learning Grove. To celebrate the completion of Phase I and raise money for the rest of the plan, the foundation is holding a fundraising picnic at the park Sunday, March 18. The admission, $25 for adults and $10 for ages 5-12, includes a picnic lunch from Denny’s, a major sponsor of the children’s garden. For an additional $10, a child can leave their own mark on the garden: a handprint on the back wall of the garden complete with their name. There’ll be games, activities, a bounce house from Wheel Fun and the Zaniacs. Happy Dolphin Press’s editor-in-chief Jennifer Smith and children’s author Scott P. Smith become a whirlwind of fun called the Zaniacs at various events (the fans are called Zaniacs, too). The Story Walk will be updated with a Happy Dolphin Press book: “A Frog Named Fred” by Joyce Lake. In addition to the Zaniacs, Cooper the caterpillar, a 4-foot tall, 3-foot wide mascot for the garden, will be in place. Children have already been enjoying the area. On the third Wednesday of every month, at 10 a.m., the foundation holds a story time in the garden that’s geared toward ages 3-5. On a balmy late morning, I met Wendi Carroll, an executive board member and chair of the children’s garden committee, and Erin White, the foundation’s executive director, at the garden to check it out. They see the garden growing into an active part of the community, possibly creating programs for home-school children or coordinating with Scouts on special projects. “It’s more symbiotic,” Erin says. It’s not just the community helping Lakes Park. “It’s us helping as well.” The idea for a children’s garden spawned out the foundation’s desire to create a botanical garden at the park. While the foundation had been successful with the fragrance garden, the group’s larger plans hit a dead end when they realized that its former role as a rock quarry meant the soil there is too thin for many plants. “So we thought let’s do something geared toward the kids,” Wendi says. “It’s a great way to connect kids to concepts like where does my food come from,” Erin adds. Volunteer coordinator Ross Becker says he’ll need more teen and adult volunteers as the garden grows. He touts the Children’s Garden as something the community was missing. There are the playgrounds and train, sure, and you can go play at indoor playgrounds, too, but this is different, he says. “You can actually get your hands dirty, get wet and have fun.” To volunteer, email

Brick by Brick Picnic » When: Sunday, March 18, 4 to 7 p.m. » Where: Lakes Regional Park, 7330 Gladiolus Drive, south Fort Myers » Cost: $25 for adults, $10 for ages 5-12, free for children younger than 5. Handprints, $10. VIP, $100, includes an engraving on a brick and unlimited beer and sangria. » Details:

single parenting »

Echo Copeland is a single mom who lives in Southwest Florida.



Are you ready for the future?

ay you have a crystal ball, and you can see the future. Will you be financially secure? Will you meet a partner and get remarried and add to your family income? Will you raise your children solo all the way until they leave the nest? What will you leave for your children and your children’s children? I recently took a hard look at how I was spending my money and if I was preparing to leave something for my child. It may be a daunting task to figure out how to plan for a future for your children when you can barely make ends meet today, but we still need to look to the future. Before you know it, there will be college bills, maybe a car to buy or maybe you’ll want to help them with the down payment on their first house. It is doable. The options to save and invest today are wide but do require energy, research and time. Which I know you don’t have. And yet I implore you, single parent, particularly single parent of a child under the age of 15. We need to start planning now. At the very least, do you have life insurance in case your child is suddenly without any biological parent raising them? Life insurance is one of the most affordable options of everything we need to

think of as parents. I must ensure that my life insurance policy is in place. I’ve been listening to Dave Ramsey (google him, he’s amazing) for a while now, and I am starting to implement his advice. What about college? Will you be ready for all those application fees and the myriad expenses even before your child sets foot onto the campus of their choice? Thank God for financial aid, but I don’t want my daughter to have the same financial obligations of student loans as I had. I want to be able to afford her a life, not luxurious, by far, but a life starting off without debt. There are plans in place to start putting aside money for your child’s future. Even a little at a time goes a long way. There are also scholarships that almost any grade can attain for the future. I see how many families miss out on scholarships and assistance that the public schools offer. Right now, I am researching scholarships to get my girl into Columbia University or Harvard. I am trying to figure out what kind of car she will have and what kind of housing she will live in. I realize now, more than ever before, aside from God, I have to make that happen myself. I am not daunted by that task; it’s a part of life, like everything else. We are bombarded by what we

should buy, and we want to give our kids what makes them happy — they already are missing out on a two-parent household, so we feel we have to compensate with things. I beg you to shut the noise of the world down. Buy less stuff for your children. There are kid entrepreneurs every day making a name for themselves; if your child can create something or be a business person even at a young age, encourage that creativity and put those coins in savings. Don’t worry about the sacrifices you’re making now, because the future is coming whether you like it or not. As an educator, I see the waste that happens. Children without a proper roof over their heads have newer cell phones than teachers and a collection of shoes that would make Michael Jordan blush. Those Jordans that cost you $400 today will not get you any money in the future. I am heeding my own advice in this and diligently working to pay down my debt and, yes, save. It won’t be much longer now, when I’ll be able to reap the fruits of this labor. Being a single parent, we must remember this one thing: Our babies may one day be single, too. They will have to know how to take care of themselves and save for their future and their children’s futures.


in the kitchen »



VEGETARIAN Or maybe you just want to reduce the amount of meat you eat. Here’s what you need to know.


ating vegetarian, whether once in a while or a full lifestyle change, has a lot of health benefits. Such diets are usually low in saturated fats and cholesterol, reducing the threats of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and some forms of cancer. Vegetarian meals can also be more nutritionally sound than your average American diet. If you want to go vegetarian — or just cut down on


your meat consumption — make sure to choose foods that give your family all the important nutrients and calorie requirements their bodies require. You can find lots of good nutrition information online at and You may also find helpful vegetarian cookbooks at local bookstores or check some out from the public library. The easiest way to start is by planning meals around the protein source.

Francine Wolfe Schwartz is a food and consumer product consultant in Southwest Florida.

Keep these nutrients in mind When eating vegetarian, make sure to include these key nutrients. » Iron: Vegetarians are at greater risk of iron deficiency. Girls especially need to eat iron-rich foods, replacing loss during menstruation. Good sources of iron include fortified cereals, legumes (chickpeas, lentils, unsalted peanuts), pumpkin seeds and broccoli. Foods high in Vitamin C (citrus, tomatoes, collard greens) increase iron absorption.


» Calcium: Low-fat and nonfat milk and yogurt are easy choices if you continue to eat dairy products, but fortified soy milk, tofu, calciumfortified orange juice, dark green leafy vegetables (spinach, broccoli, collard greens, kale) and dried fruits are also excellent sources of calcium. Consuming sufficient amounts of calcium builds strong bones and teeth, helping prevent osteoporosis.

» Vitamin D: Sunshine, low-fat and nonfat cow’s milk, fortified soy milk and cereals are the best sources of this essential nutrient. In fact, everyone needs sunshine to help the body produce vitamin D.

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» Protein: Eating meat is not essential to have enough protein in your diet. A variety of plant proteins — nuts, peanut butter, tofu, soy and whole grains — can supply protein you need. Eggs and dairy products are good choices, too.

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» Vitamin B12: This nutrient is naturally found in animal products. Choose fortified cereals and soy products.

» Zinc: Needed for growth and development. Grains, nuts, legumes and shellfish are rich in zinc. Photo courtesy of Nocera Photographic

Find a recipe on page 22 »

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« in the kitchen (continued) Avoid high-fat cheeses to replace meat. Instead choose beans, lentils or soy. Rice, pasta and whole grains are perfect partners with vegetables and cheese. Try a stir-fry combining a variety of vegetables, tofu or nuts served with brown rice. Choose whole or unrefined grains, a variety of fruits and vegetables and low-fat and nonfat dairy. Most important is to eat a well-balanced diet by limiting sweets, fat and foods high in calories. Ask your family doctor if a vitamin supplement is necessary before changing your diet. Vegetarian recipes can also be as complex or as simple as you desire. The one we’ve included here is so easy even kids can cook it.

Veggie Ravioli Makes four servings • Prep time: 20 minutes • Cooking time: 10 minutes

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INGREDIENTS » 2 (9-ounce) packages refrigerated cheese-filled ravioli or 1-pound package of frozen cheese-filled ravioli (do not thaw) » 1 (16-ounce) package frozen vegetable combination (such as broccoli, carrots, green beans, onion and mushrooms) » 3 tablespoons butter or olive oil » 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or basil leaves (optional) » ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese DIRECTIONS 1. Cook ravioli according to package instructions. Add frozen vegetables during the last 5 minutes of cooking time. 2. Carefully remove pot and strain water. Return ravioli and vegetables to the pot. Stir in butter or olive oil. 3. Serve immediately topped with parsley or basil leaves and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. NOTE: No need to add salt as the Parmesan cheese is salty.

dining out »

Free and fabulous

In addition to a kids-eat-free deal, the Patio Cafe in Naples boasts a large outdoor area that’s great for dining with kids or pets. BY ANN M. O’PHELAN Kids can munch on burgers, fish and chips, chicken tenders and more for free at the Patio Cafe in North Naples. It’s a special deal every Monday and Wednesday evening, when kids eat free with a paid adult meal. It’s not only the free meals that attract families, but also the atmosphere. The Patio Cafe lives up to its name with a large outside patio where kids can be a bit noisier. You can even bring your dog. On a cool evening, we chose an outside table on the patio. It was lovely, surrounded by enough greenery to mute nearby

U.S. 41. I ordered the chicken pot pie ($11.99). My husband had the meatloaf ($11.99), while my daughter chose the special, Greek chicken ($13.99). The restaurant features specials after 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday with items like beef stroganoff, beer battered chicken, Greek chicken, ribs, fried chicken or prime rib ($11.99 to $16.99). The Patio Cafe dinner menu also has a section called “Oldies But Goodies,” with items such as roasted turkey or grilled pork chops for $12.99 and meatloaf or fish and chips, $11.99.

There are also soups, salads and pasta along with seafood, steak, lamb chops, ribs or chicken. Lunch meals are a bit less expensive with items such as the French dip, chicken fajita or fish and chips for $8.99 and the gyro platter, Key lime fish or chicken quesadilla for $9.99. There are also a variety of sandwiches and hot platters. The breakfast menu includes omelets, pancakes, French toast, skillets and oatmeal along with the more unusual Crepe Swiss Lorraine, Mediterranean crepes and more.

Patio Cafe » Location: 10711 N. Tamiami Trail, Naples » Phone: 239-260-1075 » Online: patiocafenaples. com » Hours: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday » Price range: $3.99-$14.99 breakfasts, $6.99-$9.99 lunches, $11.99-$19.99 dinner entrees » Kids’ menu: Chicken tenders, eggs, French toast, pancakes, burgers, fish and chips, $3-$6. Kids eat free 4-9 p.m. Monday and Wednesday with paid adult meal.

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youth sports »


Janis B. Meredith, a coach’s wife for 29 years and sports mom for 22 years, lives in Alva, where she writes about character in youth sports on

How not to be a slave to youth sports


ast night I was talking with a mom whose kids were playing multiple sports at the same time. I’m not talking high school kids here; I’m talking elementary school age. All I could think was, where is this headed? At that pace, they will soon find themselves a slave to the very thing that started out as fun and satisfying. Do you feel you are headed in that same direction? Are you feeling the subtle spiral of youth sports sucking you in? Before you wake up one day and find that it has made you its slave, here’s how you can guard against that. DON’T BE IN A HURRY. Your child has many years to find their sweet spot and true passion when it comes to sports. You don’t have to figure it out in year one or two. Youth sports is not a race. It’s a journey that will take you in many directions, but not all at the same time.

I’ve seen so many sports parents push their young athletes to work on their skills, make the elite teams, go to the best clinics and camps, as if their child’s entire future depended on them excelling NOW. Kids need to be gently pushed, challenged and encouraged to grow and take risks, but parents should not hurry their development; it will happen as they grow and learn to love the game. MAKE FAMILY A PRIORITY. If you find that you have no time to enjoy family, then you are robbing your kids of one of their strongest emotional building blocks. Whatever that looks like for you, make it happen. For us, it often meant going to one child’s tournaments as a family. And sometimes it meant taking that vacation during the summer when travel ball beckoned or open gyms called. Youth sports and family time can co-exist, but it will take planning and a resolve to not let the schedule tear them apart.

LET YOUR KIDS HAVE TIME TO BE KIDS. If your child has no time to hang out with friends, relax in front of the TV for an hour or just have an afternoon of doing nothing, they are probably too busy. Kids need to have time to be kids, to play, be creative and find their own solutions to being bored. You don’t have to schedule every hour of the day for them. Let them have time when they have to figure out what to do. DON’T AUTOMATICALLY SAY YES TO ANOTHER SEASON. Just because your child played one sport for a couple of years, doesn’t mean they want to continue. Don’t assume each season. Talk it over with your child and find out what they are thinking. Re-evaluate the youth sports toll on your family and finances. Commit to a season, yes, but you don’t have to sign up for life. You can take back control over your youth sports schedule and stop letting it take over every area of your life.


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kid stuff »

Picking your own packs


Addi Touchette loves picking strawberries at Farmer Mike’s in Bonita Springs.

Kids learn where their produce comes from — and they have fun — when visiting a U-pick farm. STORY AND PHOTOS BY ANDREA STETSON


trawberries and tomatoes don’t grow on the shelves of Publix, but that is where most children get their first experience collecting food. That’s why U-pick farms in Southwest Florida are so popular that they are booked every morning during season with field trips. They are also popular with parents who bring their children to get hands-on experience picking food from the plant. At 31 Produce in Alva, there are a variety of things to pick, such as

strawberries, tomatoes, jalapenos, peppers, broccoli, squash and brussels sprouts. “It just depends on the time of year,” manager Paige Greenwell says. “So many kids come here and don’t know where it comes from. We want them to see where it comes from and the work it takes to get it to the harvesting point. Kids love it. They really do.” Meadow Mint, 3, of Fort Myers, recently picked strawberries and tomatoes at 31 Produce with her parents, Amanda and Michael Mint.

Rhett Fisher strawberries at Farm enjoys picking er Mike’s in Bonita Springs.





“This is our first time,” Amanda said. “We drove by and I thought it would be so cute, and she loves to eat them.” “I like them,” Meadow declared. At U-Pick Farms in south Fort Myers, visitors can pick tomatoes from January until the end of May or beginning of June. “I think it is a great place, because they get to see where things come from,” says Tracy Atwood, who works at U-Pick. “They come from vines in the field.” At Farmer Mike’s U-pick in Bonita Springs, event coordinator Emily Clevenger spends every weekday morning teaching school children about picking fruit and vegetables. Farmer Mike’s has strawberries to pick through March or April, depending on the weather, and has tomatoes until the farm closes after Mother’s Day. There are also areas to pick flowers. During a recent morning, Emily showed a group of kindergartners a strawberry seed and plant. She explained how the strawberry grows out of the white flower. Then she spoke about how they will see green strawberries and some white and pink ones that are not ready to pick. “You want your strawberry to be all red, because that is the sweetest,” she tells them. Lisa Anderson, a kindergarten teacher at First Baptist Academy of Naples, took her class on a field trip to Farmer Mike’s, too. “This is our plant unit in science,” she says. “They learn how it goes from a seed to a plant, so this is the culmination, and they love picking.” Deliene Almeida watched her daughter Isabella pick strawberries during the field trip. “This is her first time,” Deliene said. “It is great to have this contact and to let her choose her own stuff. She is learning about seeds at school, so this is good practice.”


lIVE ENTErTAINMENT Saturdays from 1 to 7 p.m. Sundays from 2 to 5 p.m. Enjoy free live music every weekend with a variety of performers and music styles! FrIDAy NIGHT cONcErT SErIES Fridays, 7 to 9 p.m. in the restaurant Piazza March 4: Rockin’ Horse March 11: Hester Prynn March 18: Honey Creepers Band March 25: Electric Lipstick

SPrING HEAlTH FAIr Saturday, March 19 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. between Neiman Marcus last call and Bloomingdale’s the Outlet Store Meet local experts and learn how to start a healthier lifestyle. BIG BAND Sunday, March 20 3 to 5 p.m. near the restaurant Piazza Music performed by Southwest Florida Big Band.

BrEAKFAST WITH THE EASTEr BuNNy Saturday, March 26 cAr cruISE-IN 9 to 10 a.m. Sunday, March 6 in the restaurant Piazza 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. near MundoMax Playland, lakeside Breakfast is for children only, $5 per child. Coffee will be available See all the favorite makes for adults. Reservations required. and models of classic, exotic and custom cars. PHOTOS WITH ScIENcE SATurDAy Saturday, March 12 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in MundoMax Playland Join Mr. Glen and his Science and Engineering team for interactive science projects.

BABy lEPrEcHAuN rAcES Sunday, March 13 12 to 1 p.m. in MundoMax Playland Babies must crawl past the finish line to compete for prizes. Registration begins at 11 a.m. Race starts at noon. MOMS APPrEcIATION DAy Wednesday, March 16 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. in MundoMax Playland

THE EASTEr BuNNy Saturday, March 26 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Suite 67 Have your professional photograph taken with the Easter Bunny.


EASTEr cOOKIE DEcOrATING Saturday, March 26 1 to 3 p.m. in MundoMax Playland Decorate a fun shaped cookie.

U-pick farms lets consumers pluck their produce straight from the plant, a great way to show kids where some of their food comes from. Here are three U-pick farms in Southwest Florida:

FrEE KIDS crAFTS Every Wednesday 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. in MundoMax Playland Kids from toddlers to twelve are invited to participate in fun activities.

» 31 Produce & Mining Co., 18672 State Route 31, Alva. Open daily, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Details: 239-3138213 or for details


(239) 948-3766 • • I-75, Exit 123, Corkscrew Road, in Estero, between Naples & Fort Myers

Copyright © 2016, Miromar Development Corporation. Miromar Outlets is a registered service mark of Miromar Development Corporation.


« kid stuff (continued)

» Farmer Mike’s U-Pick, 26031 Morton Ave., Bonita Springs. Open daily, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Details: 239-498-4576 or » U-Pick Farms, 8751 Gladiolus Drive, south Fort

Myers. Open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Details: 239-482-6979 The Florida Department of Agriculture provides a U-pick locator tool online at Divisions-Offices/Marketingand-Development/ConsumerResources/Buy-Fresh-FromFlorida/U-Pick-Farms.

teens »


Above: Cpl. John Pence instructs Trevor Klym, 15, as the teen maneuvers through the obstacle course. • Below: Cpl. Armando Yzaguierre gives Abby Katz, 16, tips.


DRIVERS Sheriff ’s offices provide hands-on training to prepare teen drivers for the unexpected. STORY AND PHOTOS BY ANDREA STETSON


aylor Crato, 16, wants to be the safest driver she can be when she gets behind the wheel. That’s why she is one of hundreds of new drivers in Collier and Lee counties to take the Teen Driver Challenge. “I felt like this was a great opportunity to learn more and get better at something I will be doing for the rest of my life,” Taylor says. “I think they (other teens) should come out and take this class, because they will learn more about something they will do every day, and they will be a safer driver.” Sheriff ’s departments in Lee and Collier counties hold the free event

almost monthly to help teens ages 15-19 learn about the dangers on the road and how to safely maneuver through them. The course provides classroom and hands-on driving experience to reduce a student’s chances of being in a crash. “It teaches driving skills that are more advanced than what they will learn in drivers education classes,” says Sgt. Jared Browning, who oversees the program in Collier County. “They learn how to operate a vehicle when things happen on the roadway. It’s free, so it’s no expense to them, so you can’t beat it.” Larry King, a spokesperson for the Lee County Sheriff ’s Office, says the course also teaches practical things that

drivers should know. “We teach them how to check tires, change oil and fluids, also how to make sure the vehicle is safe,” King says. During the practical training, students learn a variety of maneuvers: » Emergency braking at 35 miles per hour » Figure eight to show the dynamics of the car, shuffle steering rather than hand over hand » Intersection light turning and backing » Serpentine at 15 miles per hour forward and backward for learning control and the dynamics of the car. » Skid to recovery: The instructors put an easy drift ring on the vehicle and


« teens (continued) demonstrate. Then the teens drive 15 to 18 miles per hour, skid and learn how to recover from it. » Evasive maneuvers at 35 miles per hour.

“The evasive maneuver, which is the funnest, is a little bit intimidating, because they get up to 35 miles per hour,” Browning says. “We tell them at the last minute which way to go. It just gets pretty intense. What is important about that is 35 is not a low speed or a high speed, but it gives them the feel of how the car will react.” Browning says this is important for everyone to know. “If something happens, they will know what to do,” he says. “That is how all these rollovers happen on the interstate. They swerve and go into the sand, and it is soft, and they roll over. We teach them to let off the gas and go straight. But so many people just panic and then are startled.” Mark Klym took his son Trevor, 15, to the class. Drivers who have their learner’s permit must have a parent with them during the driving portion. “As a teenager, there are a lot of distractions that come up when they are driving, and it’s good for them to be prepared and learn from people who know what can go wrong,” Mark says. “Plus, they are going to listen to these guys. They are definitely not going to listen to the parents as much.” Browning says he has heard from past students about how the skills they learned helped them avoid accidents. He hopes more teen drivers will take the challenge. “If we don’t have it in our head, if you don’t train and do things — the body can’t go where the mind has never been,” Browning says. “You should be formulating strategies of what you will do. Kids need to be paying attention, looking for hazards. The only way to get that alertness is to give them lots of experience.”

Teen Driver Challenge in Collier County


New 7 1/2 hrs VPK PROGRAM Starting February 2018

Limited Space Available!

New Enrollment Only! Certificates available at the office of Early Learning Coalition of SW FL, 2675 Winkler Ave., Ft. Myers


» When and where: April 12 and 14. May 10 and 12. Thursday class is 5-9 p.m. at Osceola Elementary School, 5770 Osceola Trail, Naples. Saturday class is 8 a.m.-3 p.m. at Barron Collier High, 5600 Cougar Drive, Naples. More dates to be announced. » Cost: Free » Registration: Required » Details: 239-252-0144 or

Teen Driver Challenge in Lee County » When and where: March 16-17, April 27-28, May 18-19, June 15-16, June 29-30, July 27-28, August 24-25, September 14-15 and October 12-13. Friday classes are 5-8 p.m. at AAA Auto Club South, 2516 Colonial Blvd., Fort Myers (summer break classes are 9 a.m.-noon). The driving portion is 8:45 a.m. Saturdays at the Buckingham airfield. » Cost: Free, but a $25 refundable deposit is required to reserve a spot. » Registration: Required » Details: 239-561-8336 or

spotlight »

Lisa and Steve Singleton and their sons Steven, 7, left, and Matthew, 5, in their Naples home. Alicia Hernandez with her mother, Nydia Salinas-Hernandez, at their home in Naples.


At left: Artemio Hernandez holds his daughter Alicia

Little rock star with HEART


Naples toddler tackles more ordinary challenges after setting North American record with mechanical Berlin Heart. BY LIZ FREEMAN

wo-year-old Alicia Hernandez squirms mightily in a pink child seat in her East Naples home. The soft fabric of her hot pink leggings makes it easy to wriggle her left foot free from its ankle boot. Her mother puts her on a soft mat on the living room floor. In recent days, Alicia mastered rolling over on her own. The milestone was late in her

toddlerhood, but she set a record as the longest surviving child in North America on a mechanical heart support device called a Berlin Heart, according to Robert Kroslowitz, president and chief executive officer of Berlin Heart’s North American operations. Alicia is a rock star in the eyes of her family. Same with the pediatric cardiac team at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood, who witnessed her blossom from near death.

She spent 519 days with the implanted ventricular assist device that took over for her failing heart. It kept her alive until she had a heart transplant. She lived at Joe DiMaggio for 1½ years: She arrived as a 4-month-old from Naples and her heart transplant was October 19, 2017, two months shy of her second birthday. Her parents, Nydia Salinas and Artemio Hernandez, got through the ordeal


« spotlight (continued) with their trust in God that he would look after their baby. There were plenty of scares with Alicia. At times, hope was threadbare. She suffered a stroke one week after getting the cardiac support device. She developed seizures. Her name was removed from the heart transplant list until the seizures were controlled. “The family has been remarkable throughout all of this,” says Dr. Maryanne Chrisant, medical director of the pediatric cardiac transplant program at Joe DiMaggio. “It really showed the power of their prayer and their ability to rally around their child.”

heart, was implanted. The pump component is external and flexible tubes are inserted into the infant’s heart and connect to the external pump. About 650 infants and children in the U.S. have received a Berlin Heart since 2011, the year it gained FDA approval, according to Kroslowitz. Worldwide, the length of time children have survived with the device has been anywhere from one day to 578 days, he says. It’s a bridge to support critically ill children who are waiting for a heart transplant. “The average time of support is 78 days,” he says.

A mother’s intuition

Enduring the risks

Alicia was daddy’s girl the moment she was born December 12, 2015, at NCH North Naples Hospital, Nydia, 35, says with the help of a translator. Her husband purchased two shiny gold infant bangle bracelets. One framed photograph after another filled a side table. All was well the first couple of joy-filled weeks. “She was fine, but a month later, I felt something was wrong,” Salinas says. The baby seemed cool to the touch. She wouldn’t eat. “I took her to the pediatrician but was told everything was fine,” she says. At 4 months, Alicia was losing weight. Her pediatrician changed her formula and told Nydia to bring the baby back in a few days. “The next day after that, she had trouble breathing,” Nydia says. She called 911. The ambulance took Alicia back to the hospital where she was born. Tests showed the baby’s heart was enlarged and she needed to be transferred to Joe DiMaggio for its specialists in cardiac abnormalities and heart failure. “I thought she was going to die,” Nydia says. “They told me if they did not get her out, she would die.” Alicia was in severe heart failure. The organ was unable to pump properly, Chrisant says. The Berlin Heart, which acts like a

There is risk of infection, stroke and bleeding, Chrisant explains. “Unfortunately she had a very bad stroke about a week after the implant,” she says. Alicia suffered some mild paralysis but recovered. She developed seizures. “She would have a dozen seizures a day,” Chrisant says. “We were so concerned about this, we took her off the transplant list until the seizures could be brought under control.” From Day 1, Alicia’s mother stayed every night in the hospital. Her husband traveled back and forth to Naples because of his job. They have a teenage son, Kevin. Alicia developed cognitively and was growing in the hospital. “She almost outgrew the device,” Chrisant says. “She doubled her weight. We had to change out one of the pumps.” Nydia forged friendships with nurses in the hospital. She began learning English through the medical team. She taught them Spanish. On the evening of October 18, 2017, Nydia was giving Alicia her evening bath when a nurse came in the room. Someone from the transplant team was on the phone. “I knew this had to be good news,” Nydia says. “They told me they possibly had a heart for Alicia.” After the transplant team evaluated the donor heart, the transplant was


a go. The surgery started at 11 a.m. October 19. Nydia knew in her heart that God was on her family’s side. “At 6 p.m., we were able to see her,” she says. After weeks of post-transplant monitoring, the family had the best Christmas present possible: Alicia was discharged Christmas Eve. The days since have been precious for the whole family. When Artemio, 39, gets home from work at night, that is his time with his daughter. She likes to be pushed in the stroller, which helps the energetic child get sleepy before bed time. Everything is so much better now that the tough hospital days are behind them. “I am very happy now,” he says. “Life is different now because before, she was in the hospital (in Hollywood) and I was here working. Now I work here and my daughter is here. It is very different.” Alicia’s older brother, Kevin, 16, remembers how hard it was when she was gone for so long. He didn't know when she was coming home for good. “My mom surprised me,” Kevin, a junior at Lely High School, says. “I was shocked.” Alicia still has a feeding port, so Kevin's play time with her is with toys in the house. Dozens of happy pictures of Alicia with the medical team fill her Facebook page. She goes back to Joe DiMaggio’s post-transplant clinic weekly for checks. The trips back will be reduced over time. “She is almost able to sit up on her own,” Chrisant says. “We encourage families to do all the normal things. There are not a lot of limitations we put on these families.” Alicia will start speech therapy soon in Naples. She’s been to the beach and the park, but Nydia is cautious now because of the bad flu season. Until her family’s experience, she had not given much thought about organ donation and how it saves lives. Now she spreads the word. She hopes someday Alicia’s donor family will want to meet.

events »


TO IT This year’s spring and Easter events promise bunnies, games and fun galore. hildren can get photos taken with a costumed Easter Bunny and with a real live bunny. They can hunt for brightly colored eggs filled with treats. Some events are elaborate festivals with bounce houses, games, crafts, food and live entertainment. Others are unusual, such as an underwater egg hunt or an Easter run with special blast zones. Best of all, many of the spring and Easter events in Southwest Florida are free. Here’s a look at some of the holiday happenings in the area.


Underwater Easter Egg Hunt

COUNTY Charlotte County Adaptive Easter Egg Hunt

Easter egg hunts for youngsters with special needs. The Easter Bunny will be there for photos. The event includes the egg hunt, children’s crafts, music, storytelling, face painting and concessions. Registration required. • When: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, March 17 • Where: Bayshore Live Oak Park, 23157 Bayshore Road, Port Charlotte • Cost: Free • Details: 941-627-1074

Charlotte County Annual Easter Egg Hunt

Easter egg hunt, laser tag, photos with the Easter Bunny, crafts, music, storytelling, bounce house, prizes, face painting and concessions. • When: 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, March 31 • Where: North Charlotte Regional Park, 1185 O’Donnell Blvd., Port Charlotte • Cost: Free • Details: 941-627-1074

COUNTY Golden Gate Community Center Family Easter Event Egg games, instead of an egg hunt, are the featured activity at this annual festival. The Easter Bunny hands out eggs and poses for photos with the children. There are also crafts, themed games, food vendors, face painting and a fire truck. For ages 3 and older. • When: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, March 24 • Where: Golden Gate Community Center, 4701 Golden Gate Parkway, Naples • Cost: $3 • Details: 239-252-4180


This is the most unusual egg hunt in town. Children ages 1-13 hunt for eggs underwater in the pool. For those who don’t want to get wet, there will be a photo booth with the Easter Bunny. • When: Noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 24 • Where: Golden Gate Community Pool, 3300 Santa Barbara Blvd., Naples • Cost: $3 • Details: 239252-6128

Lexi at the Library

Listen to a story featuring English Lop bunnies, and then meet some real ones. Free event. Two dates and locations: • April 16 at 4 p.m. in the Estates Library, 1266 Golden Gate Blvd. W., Naples. Details: 455-8088 or • March 27 at 10:30 a.m. in the Golden Gate Library, 2432 Lucerne Road, Naples. • Details: 252-4542 or

Spring Egg Hunt

Easter Color Run

This is the second annual color run that features a 5K race with Easter colored Blast Zones. • When: 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, March 31 • Where: Eagle Lakes Community Park, 11565 Tamiami Trail E., Naples • Cost: $10 • Details: 239-252-3527

Children make a spring container and then go outside and find eggs to fill it. Registration required. • When: 4 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 20 • Where: Vanderbilt Beach Library, 788 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples • Cost: Free • Details: 239-597-8444 or

Immokalee Community Park Egg-stravaganza

Farmer Minor and Daisy the Pig Story Time

Kids collect treat-filled eggs and enjoy crafts and face painting. For children younger than 12. • When: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, March 31 • Where: Immokalee Community Park, 321 N. First St., Immokalee • Cost: Free • Details: 239-252-4449

Funny Bunny

An egg hunt with the park mascot Shiroh the Gator. Candy-filled eggs are hidden around the park as the mascot hosts the event. Bring a camera for photos. • When: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, March 31 • Where: North Collier Regional Park, 15000 Livingston Road, North Naples • Cost: $5 • Details: 239-252-4000

Spring Jubilee

There’s an egg hunt by age groups up to age 10, crafts, games, vendors, a DJ spinning tunes, inflatables and a petting zoo. • When: 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, March 31 (egg hunt starts at 11:30) • Where: Mackle Park, 1361 Andalusia Terrace, Marco Island • Cost: Free • Details: 239-642-0575

Little Bunny Garden Party

Create a spring craft and go on a bunny carrot and egg hunt. Registration required by March 20. • When: 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, March 24 • Where: Vineyards Community Park, 6231 Arbor Blvd. W., Naples • Cost: $10 • Details: 239-252-4105

Farmer Minor and his live pig Daisy and her pug friends will be there with stories and songs about pigs. Registration required. • When: 10 a.m. Friday, March 23 • Where: Collier County Library Headquarters, 2385 Orange Blossom Drive, Naples • Details: 239-593-0870 or

Tie-Dyed Easter Eggs

Color eggs with tie-dye techniques. Wear old clothes or bring a paint shirt — it could get messy! For ages 10-18. Registration required. • When: 2 to 3:30 p.m. Friday, March 30 • Where: Collier County Library Headquarters, 2385 Orange Blossom Drive, Naples • Details: 239-5930870 or

Waterside Shops Easter Egg Hunt

Children get maps and clues and follow the clues to find the eggs. There will also be face painting, a balloon twister, the Easter Bunny, crafts and treats. This year the event benefits the Foundation for the Developmentally Disabled. Reservations required. • Where: Waterside Shops, 5415 U.S. 41 N., Naples • When: 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, March 31 • Cost: $15 per child to benefit the charity • Details: 239-598-1605 or waterside-shops-easter-egg-hunt

events Centennial Park Annual Spring Egg Hunt

COUNTY Royal Scoop Easter Egg Hunt & Games

The 24th annual Royal Scoop Egg Hunt might be the largest egg hunt in Southwest Florida with more than 26,000 eggs scattered on two fields. “We will ramp it up a notch, because it is at the peak of visitors (season),” says owner David Zimmermann. “It is more active than when it falls later in April, so more eggs will be needed.” There will be both a costumed Easter Bunny and live bunnies for children to interact with and have their photo taken with. There will also be Easter themed games, bounce houses and bounce slides, and an ice cream eating contest. Even with the massive amount of eggs, the field is usually cleared in about five minutes so be there by 11 a.m. to collect eggs. • When: Saturday, March 31. Games start at 10 a.m. Egg hunts begin at 11 a.m. for ages 2-5 and 11:20 a.m. for ages 6-10. At 11:40 a.m., Lighthouse of Collier holds an egg hunt for visually impaired children. Games and fun continue until 1 p.m. • Where: In the field across the street from Royal Scoop Homemade Ice Cream, 15 Eighth St., Bonita Springs (by the church) • Cost: Free • Details: 992-2000 or

More than 4,000 eggs will be scattered in the park for ages 6 and younger to collect. There will be a DJ, photos with the Easter Bunny and a sidewalk chalk area. • When: 10 a.m. Sunday, March 25 • Where: Centennial Park, 2000 W. First St., Fort Myers • Cost: Free • Details: 239-321-7530 or

Spring Fun Scavenger Hunt

Stop by the library to search for fun local activities during spring break. Kids and teens who find them all win a prize. • When: March 19-24 during normal library operating hours, which are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. • Where: Bonita Springs Public Library, 26876 Pine Ave., Bonita Springs • Cost: Free • Details: 239-533-4860



It’s a Surprise Egg Open Craft Fair

Four craft stations will be set up to make a spring craft while a family movie plays in the background. A surprise egg will be one of the crafts. Drop in and have some fun. • When: March 21-24 during regular library hours, which are noon to 8 p.m. Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Event ends at 3 p.m. Saturday, March 24. • Where: Pine Island Public Library, 10701 Russell Road, Bokeelia • Cost: Free • Details: 239-533-4350 or

Spring Craft Fun Ages 5 and older make a special craft. Registration required. • When: 1 p.m. Tuesday, March 20 • Where: Cape Coral Public Library, 921 S.W. 39th Terrace, Cape Coral • Cost: Free • Details: 239-533-4500 or


« events


Spring Crafts

Ages 3-12 make crafts that feature butterflies, birds and rainbows. • When: 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 6 • Where: Lakes Regional Library, 15290 Bass Road, south Fort Myers • Cost: Free • Details: 239-5334000 or

Easter Egg Hunt

Children up to age 12 can hunt for eggs and visit with the Easter Bunny (bring a camera). Refreshments will be provided. Arts and crafts and entertainment, too. The bunny arrives and 10 a.m. and the hunt begins at 10:35 a.m. • When: 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, March 10 • Where: Wa-Ke Hatchee Park Recreation Center,16760 Bass Road, south Fort Myers • Cost: $5 per child (cash only); free for adults • Details: 239-432-2154 or leegov. com


Search for the prize egg, create an art project, meet the Easter Bunny and enjoy refreshments. • When: 8 to 11:30 a.m., Saturday, March 31 (Egg hunt times are 9:30 a.m. for ages 3 and younger, 9:45 a.m. for ages 4-7 and 10 a.m. for ages 8-12) • Where: Estero Park and Recreation Center, 9200 Corkscrew Palms Blvd., Estero • Cost: $5 per child • Details: 239-498-0415 or

Veterans Park Annual Colored Coconut Hunt

Egg hunts by age group, face painting and activities. There will also be photos with the Easter Bunny. Registration recommended; space limited to 125 children. • When: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, March 31 • Where: Veterans Park Recreation Center, 55 Homestead Road S., Lehigh Acres • Cost: $5 • Details: 239-369-1521 or leegov. com

North Fort Myers Easter Egg Hunt

Egg hunt, Easter Bunny photos, refreshments, goodie baskets and face painting. • Where: North Fort Myers Recreation Center, 2000 N. Recreation Way, North Fort Myers • When: 9-11 a.m., Saturday, March 24 • Cost: $5 per child • Details: 239-533-7200 or


Shell Factory & Nature Park Easter Egg Celebration

Free petting farm, live music, photos with the Easter Bunny and an Easter egg trail. • When: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Easter Sunday, April 1 (Easter Egg Trail is 10 a.m. to noon (that’s free), Easter buffet is 12:30 to 4 p.m. with Easter Bunny and music, live music continues 4 to 7 p.m.) • Where: Shell Factory and Nature Park, 2787 N. Tamiami Trail, North Fort Myers • Cost: Free admission. Food and special fun park packages available for a fee. • Details: 239995-2141 or

Easter Eggstravaganza

The Kiwanis Club of Cape Coral hosts this event for ages 10 and younger. There will be games and prizes. New this year are bouncy games. The Easter Bunny will be there for photos. The police department and fire department will be there, too. Be sure to bring a basket. • Where: Kiwanis Hall, 360 Santa Barbara Blvd., Cape Coral • When: 10 a.m. Saturday, March 31 (registration starts at 9:30 a.m.) • Cost: Free • Details:

Mike Greenwell's Easter Bunny Trail

This is the first year the event will be held at night. Organizers say this new time will give them less competition with other events, and it’s much cooler. “It’s always so hot, and our Easter Bunny is always melting,” says Dana Waters, who is organizing the event. “This way it will be much cooler.” There will be sponsors at each mini golf hole handing out candy and eggs. The Easter Bunny will be there for photos. • When: 5-8 p.m. Thursday, March 29 • Where: Mike Greenwell’s Bat-A-Ball & Family Fun Park, 35 N.E. Pine Island Road, Cape Coral • Cost: Free for ages 12 and younger; donations of pet food for Helping Paws is requested. • Details: 239-574-4386 or

Breakfast with the Easter Bunny

Children enjoy breakfast, play games and meet the Easter Bunny in the Restaurant Piazza. Breakfast is for children only; coffee available for adults. Reservations required. • When: 9 a.m. Saturday, March 31 • Where: Miromar Outlets, 10801 Corkscrew Road, Estero • Cost: $5 per child • Details: 239-948-3766 or

Glow in the Dark Egg Hunt

Hunt for glowing eggs. There will also be games and crafts. Designed for ages 4-6. Registration required. • Where: Four Freedoms Park, 4818 Tarpon Court, Cape Coral • When: 6-7:30 p.m. Friday, March 30 • Cost: $20 • Details: 239-5740804 or

Some Bunny Loves Me

Little egg hunt in a special indoor egg patch and a craft. For ages 1-2. • When: 11:15 a.m. to noon, Friday, March 30 • Where: Four Freedoms Park, 4818 Tarpon Court, Cape Coral • Cost: $15 • Details: 239-574-0804 or

Bass Pro Shops Egg Hunt

Easter egg hunts, free photos and crafts. • When: March 24 to April 1 (Free photo is 6-8 p.m. MondayThursday, 2-8 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m.6 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. Easter egg hunt is Saturday, March 31, at 2 p.m. Free crafts are 1-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and 2-5 p.m. Friday) • Where: Bass Pro Shops, 10040 Gulf Center Drive, San Carlos Park • Cost: Free • Details: 239-461-7800 or

camps »


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Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead •

Foster your child’s love of all things electronic and send them to Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead. With different opportunities all summer, kids can choose from classes such as Coding, Web Design, Robotics and others. There is even a camp for learning how to pilot, maintain and repair a drone or a music tech camp that uses recording equipment and software, so students can record and edit musical compositions. Most camps are for ages 9 to 13, but there are camps for kids as young as 6. Camps run either 9 a.m. to noon or 1 to 4 p.m., and fees range from $250 to $395. Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead, 625 111th Ave. N., Naples. 239-451-3142 or


ARTScool • Inspire your budding artist and send them to ARTScool at the Naples Art Association. The summer camp program, for ages 5 to 17, features eight different weekly sessions in subjects like painting, drawing, paper arts, mixed media, digital art, clay models and assembling 3-D sculptures, as well as others. Classes are $125 per week per child and run June 4 to August 3, with two class times daily, 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. Early morning drop-off is available for an additional $5 per day. Naples Art Association, 585 Park St., Naples. 239-2626517 or



Parks r County variety ie ll o C t rive a wide d will th parks. With a and our chil r pology Y ie a ll • n o S n C , t g io s t in o a n k e m o ig r s t o c e a c d n Re Parks & ps, which operatecational camps o imation and web also y t n u o n C n u m a Collier tion summer ca Rec features ed amps for web a g. Your child c s start at p c in a & Recre , Collier Parks & ers. There are ll and BMX rac ow to sail. Cam week. a h ns er oth tb o p s e rn ti a k a 6 p s ll 6 le a o e $ b f to w , o to s p v. nis ames, a te drops cer, ten ntyfl.go end cam arcade g camps for soc oarding or att summer, the ra 0 or colliercou b s 0 e ll 0 rt e plus spo rskiing and kn gister for the fu ary. 239-252-4 re sv ate learn w eek, and if you ation, location w cre r e e R p & 5 s 8 $ ark ounty P Collier C


camps (continued) »



ur former in yo e a little per talents, with av h u yo o KidzAct • D will foster those natural e summer. ct t th life? KidzA throughou rious ages va completed r e fo av s h p cam ildren who ch r o (f aches te ct ) Kinder A ergarten cing, ten or kind nging, dan ar si g g er d in n d u ki cl in pre s, ill er p sk t. $200 theater beginning me and plo acter, costu d first or second ar ch , n o ti dic plete g of t Act (com derstandin session. Firs r child’s un u g stage in yo n n ar o s le grade) build ut adds elements like session. er sb y. $300 p g lo o in theater skill rm ird to eighth d acting te ompleted th aterial (c direction an l ca si u M Mini new m Third Act – s work on ave camper d of each h en ill e w th e) d at l gra ini musica m There’s also a . t n n io se ss es and pre 00 per se 4 $ . n io urse for ag ss co se Theatre ry ers two-week o ay at Pl rv s se le n d Co e Nap s. an Advance h is new this year. Th le ap hic Ave. S., N 13 to 18, w er Theatre, 701 Fifth mm rg. KidzAct Su lesplayers.o 340 or nap -7 4 3 -4 9 3 2


If your child is an outdoor enthusiast, then Camp Wyhoway at the Greater Naples YMCA is a great option. Campers spend much of their day outside, taking part in activities such as baseball, swimming, tennis and even climbing a rock wall (at the Naples location). Each week has a theme and on select weeks, there is a field trip to places like Sun-n-Fun Lagoon, Lowdermilk Beach Park, the Collier County Museums, Big Cypress National Preserve and others. If you sign up early, the $100 registration fee (per child) is waived. Camp is $100 per week if you are a Y member or $125 for nonmembers. There is also CAT bus service to select locations with a Y staff member riding along. Breakfast and lunch is included. Greater Naples YMCA, 5450 YMCA Road, Naples. 239-597-3148 or


Greater Naples YMCA •

Ocean Kids Camp • Your kid can truly embrace the Florida lifestyle by attending Ocean

Kids Camp, held at Lowdermilk Beach Park in Naples. Kids learn how to properly conduct themselves in a marine environment and receive an introduction to lifesaving skills like CPR and first aid as well as learn basic boat and water safety. The program exposes campers to surfing, snorkeling, stand-up paddleboarding and skimboarding. Each week, campers take part in Beach Olympics competing in beach and lifeguard games. All campers must be good swimmers. Camp is 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday-Friday. Cost is $150 or $40 per day. Ocean Kids Camp, 1301 Gulf Shore Blvd., Naples. 239-213-3020 or


LEE COUNTY outdoorsman (or girl) will love Calusa Nature Center’s summer camp. The program features themed weeks, but all focus on teaching kids how to be nature explorers and reinforce scientific understanding of ecosystems and animal lifecycles. For ages 6 to 14, the camp runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 31 to August 9 and offers daily or weekly rates. (Fees were unavailable as of press time.) Early drop-off and late pick-up options are offered, too, for an additional fee. Each week, campers enjoy private planetarium shows and get behind-the-scenes access to the center. They also learn how to care for the animals. Calusa Nature Center & Planetarium, 3450 Ortiz Ave., Fort Myers. 239-275-3435 or


Calusa Nature Center & Planetarium • A budding

Got little ones who would love this camp? Check out the Woodland Nature Montessori School on property.



take music lessons at the Centers for the Arts Bonita Springs this summer as well as take part in camps that cover a range of interests. Digital Drawing & Animation teaches children how to bring their drawings to life with computers. Campers can learn to draw basic cartoons in Comic Strips and Cartoons. Other camps are Fashion & Jewelry Design, Paint the Picasso, sewing, art, playwriting, pottery and more. Each summer, the center also hosts a youth theater program for ages 8 and older. This year, they will perform “High School Musical Jr.” Each camp costs $140 per session (some vary). Children as young as 4 can enroll, too. Centers for the Arts Bonita Springs, 10150 Bonita Beach Road, Bonita Springs. 239-495-8989 or


Centers for the Arts Bonita Springs • Your child can

Cape Coral Yacht Club • Become a master at paddleboarding and kayaking at

summer camp with the Cape Coral Yacht Club. Or learn about the marine ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico during Beach Buddies, a half-day morning camp ($60 for residents) for ages 4 to 5 and an afternoon camp ($85 for residents) for ages 6 to 8. Both are taught by a Lee County Public Schools marine biology teacher and give campers a hands-on opportunity to interact with marine life. Advanced Beach Buddies, for ages 9 to 14, is an all-day camp ($120 for residents) where campers collect sea life for analysis. Nonresidents pay a higher fee to attend. Cape Coral Yacht Club, 5819 Driftwood Parkway, Cape Coral. 239-574-0806 or

camps (continued) »




Youth Center hosts summer camp for children in kindergarten through fifth grades, with a different theme each week, such as Diving Into Summer (June 4-8), Critter Connection (June 18-22), Time Travelers (July 9-13) and Sports Mania (July 16-20), to name a few. Campers take part in field trips, group activities and arts and crafts in relation to each theme. The camps run 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. with extended hours available until 9 p.m., which requires a youth center membership ($30 per year). The camp cost is $99 per child, per week. The center is at 315 S.W. Second Ave., Cape Coral. 239-2423950 or


Cape Coral’s William Austen Youth Center • The William Austen

Sanibel S overnig ea School • H ht e amm

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» camps (continued) Summer Intensive, a fast-

Florida Repertory Theatre • Budding actors will shine at Camp Florida Rep: a different musical every two of comprehensive theater camp that cumulates with a live performance paced, rehearse to produce a full Broadwayweeks. Campers receive instruction in dance, music and drama, and Family,” June 4-15; “Singin’ in the Rain style musical. Five programs are offered this summer: “The Addams Jr.,” July 16-27. Camp is for ages Musical School “High and 2-13, Jr.,” June 18-29; “Willy Wonka Jr.,” July and aftercare is available. camp, per $415 is Tuition -Friday. Monday p.m. 4 to a.m. 9 held is and 8 to 17 peducat floridare or 2020, ext. -4665, Florida Rep, 2268 Bay St., Fort Myers. 239-332

& Recr p, or if camp w they have sp eation • Sen e d ith Lee County cial physical or your kids to tr and ou Parks & aditiona develop tings. S pecia men Rec l ca health a nd fitne lty camps pro reation. Each o tal delays, the mp, teen camp ss and li y vide an ffering , a spec slosh th has a w can attend a feg in-depth rough th special ialty eekly sc week o e Six M uarding. New of Wild needs h e n il life this yea dule of e Cypre topics s r is ac ss u fees vary . Most camps are 9 a.m Slough and vis an Eco Tour T ch as nature a tivities by cam nd rav it p. Regis . ter at le to 4 p.m., wit CROW, the Cli el Camp, whe wildlife, h exten re teens nic for the Reh d m/park s/progra ed care availa a ble. Loc bilitation ms/sum a mer or call 239 tions and -533-74 40.

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Woodland Nature Montessori School • If you have little

ones, age 3 to 6, and still need a camp this summer, the Woodland Nature Montessori School is an option. The camp is located in the Iona House on the campus of the Calusa Nature Center. Campers study local plants and animals as they explore the grounds of the center. They also walk the hiking trails, watch animal shows, study animal exhibits, visit bird and butterfly aviaries as well as the natural history museum. Camp is $50 per day and requires a full week of enrollment. Hours are 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Woodland Nature Montessori School at Calusa Nature Center & Planetarium, 3450 Ortiz Ave., Fort Myers. 239-896-3662 or woodlandnature

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safety corner » R ICH A R D K EEL A N

Classes to help families One teaches mental health first aid while the other provides strategies for parents of children with special needs.


he Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida is offering two new courses that reflect Lee Health’s commitment to improve the outcomes for children in Lee County who have behavioral health concerns. The two courses, offered through the Child Advocacy Department, are Mental Health First Aid and Partners in Parenting for the Exceptional Child. People who enroll in local mental health first aid courses learn a five-step action plan to help loved ones, colleagues, neighbors and others cope with mental health or substance use problems. Similar to traditional first aid and CPR, mental health first aid is help provided to a person developing a mental health problem or experiencing a crisis until professional treatment is obtained or the crisis resolves. Mental health first aid is an evidence-based public education and prevention tool — it improves the public’s knowledge of mental health and substance use problems and connects people with care for their mental health or substance use problems. Mental health first aid has strong evidence backing it. Studies show that the program improves people’s mental

health, increases understanding of mental health issues and treatments, connects more people with care and reduces stigma. Trainees are from all walks of life and include school personnel, law enforcement, faith-based community leaders, hospital and nursing home staff, families and young people. As of 2016, there were more than 550,000 people trained in mental health first aid in the U.S. by a network of more than 9,000

Richard Keelan is a child advocate for the Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.

instructors. Partners in Parenting for the Exceptional Child is a free specialized group parenting class to teach parents how to focus on their strengths and set appropriate expectations for their children, as well as specialized and effective discipline strategies. The positive discipline curriculum is from the Nurturing Parenting Program, authored by Stephen J. Bavolek, Ph.D., which is an effective and successful parenting course. The workshops, which meet once a week for two hours over eight weeks, are adapted for parenting children with special needs. Free child care will be provided. Whether you are the parent of an infant, toddler or older child, you will learn how to manage your child’s behavior without spanking or shouting, learn effective communication skills, establish nurturing routines for meal times, bath times, bedtimes, chores and homework, understand the effect on typical siblings, gain a sense of personal power and feel good about yourself, enjoy your family and have fun together. Classes are offered at various locations. For more information about class schedules, contact the Child Advocacy Program at 239-343-6468 or by email at

Safe Kids is a nonprofit coalition of agencies and organizations dedicated to eliminating preventable childhood injuries. Visit


« family album

WELCOME ABOARD » The Guadalupe Center, a nonprofit that aims to break the cycle of poverty through education, raised $1.3

million at its Welcome Aboard 2018 Signature Event on January 17 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort in Naples. The event featured special presentations by the center’s early childhood education students. Photo special to SWFL Parent & Child

LITTLE WONDERS » Thirteen children from the Little Wonders Voluntary PreKindergarten class took a field trip to the professional art studio of Mally Khorasantchi in Naples to help create art for the Big Impressions by Little Artists fundraiser taking place Friday, March 9, 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at the Hilton Naples. The event raises money to help parents with early education tuition expenses. Little Wonders is a CCCR child development center. Photo special to SWFL Parent & Child 44 » MARCH 2018 » SWFLPARENTCHILD.COM

ARTFEST » Eric Lord, 5, of

Fort Myers, creates a jellyfish art project at the SWFL Parent & Child booth at ArtFest Fort Myers in the Publix Art Yard, an area designed for little artists. The event took place February 3 and 4. Photo by Pamela Hayford







AGES 6-13



AFTER CLASS CARE AVAILABLE $5/HR PER CHILD SWEET LIBERTY » Students in The Immokalee Foundation’s programs spent a day on a

53-foot sailing catamaran in the Gulf of Mexico on an outing sponsored by Harry and Mary Ann Debes, of Naples. For many, the trip on the Sweet Liberty was their first sailing experience. Above, left, Israel Estrada, Sofia Villa, Linda Gomez-Trejo and Noah Garcia. Above, right, Sweet Liberty Captain Shane and Crystal Flores. Below, from left, Mary Ann Debes, Aida Garcia, Samantha Huapilla, Lizette Silva, Israel Estrada, Ana Vega-Arreola, Harry Debes, Thianica Previlus, Fabian Arreguin, Elmer Santiago and Linda Gomez-Trejo. Photos special to SWFL Parent & Child



239-772-5657 516 CULTURAL PARK CAPE CORAL 33990


« family album

LITTLE HATS, BIG HEARTS » One-day-old Legend

Kenlly Luttrell, born in early February at Cape Coral Hospital, smiles in her handmade red hat, a celebration of American Heart Month. More than 2,000 red hats were made by volunteers and donated to Lee Health hospitals for the Little Hats, Big Hearts initiative. Photo courtesy of Lee Health

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STRIDES FOR EDUCATION » The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools held its seventh annual Strides for Education 5K Run on February 3 on Florida SouthWestern State College’s Lee Campus. More than $30,000 was raised for scholarships. Photo courtesy of The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools


travel »







This Bahamas resort has its own water park, an extensive marine aquarium, more than 40 restaurants, dolphin encounters and miles of turquoise blue waters. BY JENNIFER THOMAS


» travel (continued)


hether arriving via cruise ship, airplane or your own vessel, getting to the Atlantis Paradise Island resort in Nassau, Bahamas, is relatively easy. It’s also easy to have fun here. This island destination boasts unmistakable architecture, on-site marine life, a water park with nearly 20 waterslides, a not-so-lazy river ride, beachside fun, more than 40 restaurants, a casino, shopping, a marina filled with yachts of the rich and famous, dolphin encounters and more. Atlantis is a favorite go-to for a quick getaway for my family. My husband and I have been taking our daughter, Kylie, who is 12, to this destination since she was about 3 years old. It has been fun to watch her fascination with The Dig — the underground tunnels and aquarium section — the shark tunnel and, of course, the water park, Aquaventure. Most recently, we visited Atlantis in December to celebrate a milestone birthday with friends Stacy, Jeff and Clarice Spencer, of Cape Coral. Kylie was tall enough to take a “Leap of Faith” and plunge down the thrilling 60-foot near-perpendicular plunge in


the center of a life-size Mayan temple replica that sends riders through a clear acrylic tunnel submerged in a sharkfilled lagoon. The multitude of water experiences at the resort is the most compelling reason we return often, even if it’s just for a day while in port on a sailing cruise. “I think it is impossible for any family not to embrace the multitude of marine experiences everywhere around the resort,” says Atlantis spokesperson Lauren Snyder, “whether it be a chance to spend time with the rescued Katrina dolphins at Dolphin Cay, to feed the stingrays or baby turtles in their sanctuaries or to see the over 50,000 marine animals that make their home inside the Ruins Lagoon, where they are studied and cared for by the amazing team of over 100 aquarists, marine biologists and seakeepers. An afternoon at Aquaventure, which has water experiences, slides, bucket dumps, pools and fun for all sizes, is often the generator of the most laughs and least number of photographs (unless you have a waterproof camera or GoPro).” The river rides are extremely memorable.

“I love the lazy river,” Kylie says, “because of the rapids and thrills you experience during the ‘ride.’ And you get to choose different options while floating, including the tubing slides, which are so much fun to experience.” The Power Tower is the tallest structure of Aquaventure at 120 feet. It holds four waterslides, including the Leap of Faith that Kylie went on and The Abyss, a body slide that drops riders a near-vertical 50 feet into total darkness before flushing them out into the Cenote filled with alligator gars. We tried to experience each of the water thrills during our last trip. Particularly fun were the three innertube slides that create roller coasters of waves, propelling its riders. The “lazy” river was probably the crowd-topping favorite for parents and kids alike. This trip, Kylie and Clarice were excited to body surf in the crashing waves of the resort’s beach. Completely covered in sand at times from wiping out, they kept riding the waves practically until sundown. Every child is different, and that’s what makes Atlantis so fantastic, Lauren says.


(239) 451 - 3142

For pricing and camp descriptions, visit

Robotics Game Coding Drones 3D Printing Minecraft Web Design Perfect Pitch Music Tech Smart Art Electric Arts


Science. Technology. Engineering. Arts. Music. Enrichment

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“There really is something different for everyone to thrill and please every type of child,” she explains. “This is definitely not a place where a child will tell you they are bored. It is a place where parents get to be with their children, but it is the type of place where parents get a nice break.” While also the spokesperson, Lauren is a mom to two children, now 12 and 14, who have been growing up at Atlantis since the ages of 1 and birth. “I’ve had the singular experience of seeing the impact of how their imagination, combined with the very real marine life that surrounded them, created true lovers of the ocean and boys still not tired of trying to preserve coral reefs, endangered species and our planet,” she says. Dolphin Cay was created as a result of Hurricane Katrina when a need arose to provide habitat to stranded dolphins. Through the Discovery Cay programs, there are four new offerings, in addition to a trainer- and junior-trainer-for-a-day excursion: kayaking, paddleboarding, snorkeling and Rise and Shine playtime with the dolphins. As we explored the marine life and aquatic adventures, we did come across something that was new since our last visit. At The Coral section of the resort (accommodations are in The Royal, The Coral, The Beach, The Cove, The Reef and Marina Village), a new pool has been added. The brochure touts: “The new, sparkling blue and white poolscape, designed by renowned architect Jeffrey Beers of Jeffrey Beers International (JBI), will open later this November and provide a stunning environment with private cabanas, family-friendly water activities and a swim-up bar featuring

locally made, preservative-free frozen treats prepared daily with Bahamian fruit.” The Coral also recently debuted the new Sun & Ice, a Bahamian ice cream parlor, in the newly renovated Coral Towers lobby. There is a plethora of dining opportunities. I have always been amazed at the highend dining available by world renowned chefs, including Chef Todd English and Chef Nobu Matsuhisa. New dining establishments at Atlantis Marina include three new, local-infused dining concepts at the resort’s Marina Village marketplace: Frankie Gone Bananas, McKenzie’s Conch Shack and the Pirate Republic taproom. “I think the new favorite dining spot for families at Atlantis is Frankie Gone Bananas,” Lauren says. “Not only is it traditional and authentic Bahamian cuisine, but there is live music, the waiters sing, the food is fresh, and they do have a kids’ menu if your children are not adventurous. Frankie’s is at the resort’s Marina Village, where there is a lot to do and see during your vacation. I’d also recommend trying conch salad while you are in The Bahamas — a true Bahamian delicacy. I recommend going to McKenzie’s (Conch Shack) for that. It tastes like nothing you’ve ever experienced before.” A personal favorite when we stayed on property was Murray’s Deli, an authentic, casual New York deli experience featuring ’50s décor. I also recommend Poseidon’s Table for a variety of food buffet-style, from Indian to sushi. The other amazing draw of this destination surrounds it — the turquoise clear water. “I would definitely recommend getting onto a boat and exploring the waters of the Bahamas, as far out as you are able to go,” Lauren says. “The Bahamas has some of the most beautiful waters and beaches in the world, and they are all so different.” A visit to Atlantis is like a treasure hunt — there is so much to discover and so many hidden gems to find.


Two locations: North Naples Cape Coral


Atlantis Paradise Island has many water attractions. Far left is the Cenote, where riders end up after plunging down The Abyss, a 50foot near vertical drop. At left, a rider enters The Surge. On the previous page, sharks swim above the clear tube of the Leap of Faith waterslide.


« around town

Ride the rails with Thomas Maybe you’ve seen Thomas the Tank Engine perform at our Family Fun Expo. Well, this month, a life-size Thomas is pulling into the town of Parrish, just south of Tampa, at the Florida Rail Road Museum. “Day Out with Thomas: Big Adventures Tour 2018” arrives March 10. Kids can take a 25-minute ride with the tank engine (it talks!) March 10 and 11 and March 16-18. Plus, meet Sir Topham Hatt and enjoy crafts, photo ops and other activities. Gates open at 8 a.m. and the fun continues until 5 p.m. with train rides every hour starting at 9 a.m. The museum recommends buying tickets in advance ($19-$23 for ages 2 and older). Get details at Tickets are available at 866-468-7630 or

Celebrate Pi Day with pie class

Mirai Nagasu

Olympic stars to perform at Germain

Directly from the winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, see some of the best U.S. figure skaters in an all-new Stars on Ice show, including Nathan Chen, Ashley Wagner, Maia and Alex Shibutani, Karen Chen, Jason Brown and Meryl Davis and Charlie White. Doors open at 6:30 with the stars taking the ice at 7:30 p.m. April 6 at Germain Arena in Estero. Tickets are $28-$153; parking is $15. Get details and tickets at



The chef and owner of The Local in Naples is planning a Hands-On Pie Making class to celebrate National Pi Day on Wednesday, March 14. “Making pies isn’t as hard as you might think,” says Chef Jeff Mitchell. And it’s something parents and children can enjoy doing together (we asked). The 2½ hour class begins promptly at 9 a.m. Cost is $35 per person. Register at

Collier library system turns 60 The Collier County Library System is celebrating 60.5 years of service with special events Saturday, March 24. That’s 60.5 because Hurricane Irma delayed a 60th anniversary celebration in September. Its history actually dates back 85 years when the Women’s Club of Naples started the first lending library in 1932. In 1957, the Friends of the Library petitioned Collier County to create the Collier County Free Public Library. Now the library system has 10 locations countywide. To celebrate, the library system is organizing a progressive anniversary party. It starts at 9 a.m. at the Naples Regional Library. There’ll be games for all ages, snacks and a face painter. Then, at 11 a.m., the Headquarters Library will have a sock hop dance and cake until 2 p.m. Then, from 1 to 3 p.m., the South Regional Library will have music, refreshments, comedy and magic. Get more details at

calendar » Friday, March 2 Dr. Seuss Birthday Celebration » 6:30 p.m. Three Barnes & Noble locations: Coconut Point, 23130 Fashion Drive, Estero; Waterside Shops, 5377 Tamiami Trail, Naples; 13751 Tamiami Trail, south Fort Myers. It’s Dr. Seuss’ birthday. Enjoy a story, games and activities in celebration of the beloved author’s birthday. Goodnight Cow: A Stuffed Animal Sleepover » 6:30 p.m. Chick-fil-A Estero, 21900 S. Tamiami Trail, Estero. Kids’ stuffed animals are invited to have a sleepover with the Chick-fil-A Cow. Children bring their plush pal to the restaurant at 6:30 p.m., make a craft, read a bedtime story with the cow and tuck in their animals for the night. Then at 9 a.m. the next morning, the kids pick up their stuffed animal and get to see sleepover photos from the night before, have a free breakfast and take home a memorable picture of their animal’s night at Chick-fil-A. Make reservations to, including your child’s name.

Saturday, March 3 Fairy Tea Party at Rotary Park » 11 a.m.-noon. Rotary Park, 5505 Rose Garden Road, Cape Coral. Enjoy tea sandwiches, treats and punch in the butterfly garden. Feel free to wear fairy or butterfly wings. Registration required. 239-549-4606. Mommy and Me Yoga » 9-10 a.m. Healthy Life Center at Coconut Point, 23190 Fashion Drive, Estero. Yoga instructor, Nicole Traum of Lee Health Wellness Center will lead a free community mommy-and-me yoga session for ages 3 and younger. Reservations required. Bring a mat. 239-495-4475. Science Saturday » 11 a.m.-2 p.m. IMAG History & Science Center, 2000 Cranford Ave., Fort Myers. Enjoy extra experiences and activities the first Saturday of every month. Plus, History Saturday occurs on the third Saturday of each month. Included with admission, which is $14 for adults, $10 for children and students with ID, free for ages 2 and younger. Seminole Shootout Battle Reenactment & PRCA Rodeo » March 2-3. John Jimmie Memorial Arena and the Immokalee Youth Camp, 1195 E. Main St., Immokalee. The 5-star PRCA Rodeo is March 2 and 3. Reenactments are 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. March 3. Rodeo events start at 7 p.m. each night. At 5:30 p.m. March 3, Grammy Award-nominee Manny Diquez and the Manny Diquez Band perform. The rodeo also includes alligator wrestling, craft and food vendors, historical and cultural displays, and Seminole and soldier camps. Activities for kids include archaeological dig, knife making and tomahawk throwing events, as well as a game called chunkey stone in which one player throws a stone and another tries to throw a spear near the stone. Combo tickets are $25, reenactment only is $10 for adults, $6 for children, rodeo only is $12 each day. VIP seating is $45. Southwest Florida Reading Festival » 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Fort Myers Regional Library, 2450 First St., Fort Myers. This free, annual festival incites a passion for reading. The festival brings in nationally acclaimed best-selling authors for adults, children, and all reading interests. The authors give presentations, take questions from the audience and sign books for fans. There are also arts and craft activities, a book for every child, the Lee County Teachers of English 2018 Aspiring Author Awards and e-library demonstrations.

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« calendar Complete schedule available online. 239-479-4636.

Sunday, March 4 Beat the Heat Concert » Noon. Dixie Roadhouse, 1023 S.E. 47th Terrace, Cape Coral. Zack Polsenberg, an offensive lineman for the Riverdale Raiders football team, died from heat stroke July 10, 2017. His dad, James, and Claudine Polsenberg created the Zack Polsenberg’s Heat Severity Charity to prevent such a tragedy from happening to another child. This event aims to raise money for the nonprofit and raise awareness in the community. Bands start playing at noon. Admission is $5. In addition to live music, there will be raffles, food trucks and silent auctions. Brews For Books » Noon-5 p.m. Millennial Brewing Co., 1181 Royal Palm Ave, Fort Myers. Free family day fundraiser for Woodland Nature Montessori School, a nature-based school for ages 3-6. Live music from the Cajun Dave and Coconut Johnny Band and Family Music Time. Entertainment from Way Too Tall Torrie and Super Science & Amazing Art. Separate bounce houses for toddlers and older kids. Family-oriented silent auction and raffle items. Mac N’ Cheese Challenge » 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Venue Naples, 13240 Tamiami Trail N., Naples. Benefits MakeA-Wish Southern Florida. Restaurants and catering companies showcase their most delicious take on this classic comfort food. Enjoy samples and vote for your favorite. Live music. Rhythm in the Night: Irish Dance Spectacular » 7 p.m. Southwest Florida Event Center, 11515 Bonita Beach Road S.E., Bonita Springs. $25-$45. The production reimagines traditional Irish dance to take the audience on the journey of a fallen hero and his rise to redemption. Led by former Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance lead dancer, Justin Boros. 239-245-9910. St. Katharine Drexel Feast Day Festival » 1:30-4:30 p.m. St. Katharine Drexel Feast Day Festival, 1922 S.W. 20th Ave., Cape Coral. Free admission. Food, bounce house and slides, games, face painting and more.

Monday, March 5 Homeschool Life Science Classes » Calusa Nature Center & Planetarium, 3450 Ortiz Ave., Fort Myers. $10 per class, $5 for siblings, free for members. Drop in for a class or enjoy the full 8-week course. Grades K-3 meet at 2 p.m. the first and third Monday of each month. Grades 3-5 meet at 2 p.m. the first and third Thursday.

Tuesday, March 6 Symphony Story Time » 11 a.m.-noon. Pine Island Public Library, 10700 Russell Road, Bokeelia. For ages 5 and younger. The librarian reads a music-related story, and a Gulf Coast Symphony musician provides accompaniment and an introduction to their instrument.


Wednesday, March 7 “The Music Man” » 7:30-9:30 p.m. Sugden Community Theatre, 701 Fifth Ave. S., Naples. $45 for adults, $35 for subscribers, $10 for students and educators. A family-friendly musical comedy by Meredith Willson. “The Music Man” follows fast-talking traveling salesman Harold Hill as he cons the people of River City, Iowa, into buying instruments and uniforms for a boys’ band that he vows to organize. When he falls for the librarian, his plans to skip town with the cash are foiled. Show runs March 7-April 8. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. 239263-7990.

Friday, March 9 Mystery Walk » 6-8 p.m. 1400 Jackson St., Fort Myers. A mystery scavenger hunt every second Friday of the month. Every month brings you to different places with different clues. Rock Out Against Domestic Violence » 7-11 p.m. Cape Coral Yacht Club, Cape Coral. $8 in advance, $10 at the door. A date night (meaning more for grown-ups than kids) to benefit Abuse Counseling & Treatment Inc. Live music featuring Razing Cape, raffles, food, BYOB.

Saturday, March 10 Celebrate Estero » 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Miromar Outlets, 10801 Corkscrew Road, Estero. Games, activities, demonstrations, displays and raffle drawings. Creepy Crawlie Day » 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Calusa Nature Center & Planetarium, 3450 Ortiz Ave., Fort Myers. Free for members, $10 for adults, $5 for ages 3-12. Learn about all things that creep, slither and crawl. Presentations, crafts, activities and planetarium shows. Plus, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., see K9 demonstrations in celebration of National K9 Veterans Day. CurePSP Awareness & Memorial Walk » 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Mackle Park, 1361 Andalusia Terrace, Bonita Springs. $25 for adults, $10 for students (cash or check). Auction, raffle, prizes, entertainment, lunch and T-shirt. 239-353-3960. East Lee County High School Criminal Justice and Fire Academies Kickball Tournament » 8:30 a.m. East Lee County High School, 715 Thomas Sherwin Ave. S., Lehigh Acres. $10 to register a team (10 player minimum; players must be 16 or older). $2 for general admission to watch the tournament. Proceeds benefit the criminal justice and fire academies at East Lee County High School. tianang@leeschools. net or Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous Information Meeting » 1:30 p.m. Cape Christian Fellowship, 2110 Chiquita Blvd. S., Cape Coral. Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous is a 12-step fellowship based on the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous. It’s a tax-exempt, nonprofit program that helps people of all ages who have issues with food. There are no dues or fees for members. Free Kids Fishing Clinic » 9 a.m.-noon. Naples City Pier, 25 12th Ave. S., Naples. An educational event by the Marine Industries Association of Collier County Foundation, with the help of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The event aims to create responsible marine resource stewards

calendar »

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by teaching children the vulnerability of Florida’s marine ecosystems and ethical angling skills. The clinic also teaches fundamental saltwater fishing knowledge and skills. For ages 5-15. Fort Myers Beach Shrimp Festival » March 10-11. Lynn Hall Memorial Park, 950 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach. Parade, food, shopping, 5K, shrimp eating contest, even a Shrimp Festival Queen. March in the Park » 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Jaycee Park, 4125 S.E. 20th Place, Cape Coral. Free admission and free parking. Plant and garden art sale, face painter and activities for the kids, raffle prizes. Benefits the Garden Club of Cape Coral, a nonprofit that has numerous projects involving kids in our area. 239-257-2654 or

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Pets n’ Pints » 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Ave Maria Town Center. Free. Bring your four-legged friend to Ave Maria for a day of live music, an inflatable obstacle course and balloon artist for the kids, pet vendors, adoption agencies, food vendors and pet contests. Faithful Friends Animal Hospital will offer discount microchipping and county tags with proof of rabies vaccine. SoCo Second Saturday Art Crawl » 6-10 p.m. Royal Palm Square, 1400 Colonial Blvd., Fort Myers. Brings together local talent and patrons for a night filled with fun, family and artful entertainment in the SoCo Cultural District. “The Magician’s Hat” Storytime » 11 a.m. Three Barnes & Noble locations: Coconut Point, 23130 Fashion Drive, Estero; Waterside Shops, 5377 Tamiami Trail, Naples; 13751 Tamiami Trail, south Fort Myers. A story about kids who reach down into a magician’s hat and discover something better than they could ever imagine — books that help them become whatever they want to be. Activities to follow. The Southwest Florida Junior Angler Championship » 7 a.m.-1 p.m. Port Sanibel Marina, 14341 Port Comfort Road, Fort Myers. For ages 4-15 (must be accompanied by adult 21 or older). There may be more than one team fishing from the same boat. $75 per person. Proceeds benefit The Boys and Girls Clubs of Lee County.

Sunday, March 11 Baby Leprechaun Races » 11 a.m. Miromar Outlets, 10801 Corkscrew Road, Estero. Babies crawl past the finish line to compete for prizes.

Tuesday, March 13 Breastfeeding Class » 6:30-8:30 p.m. The Family Birth Center of Naples, 2930 Immokalee Road, Suite 2, Naples. Learn how to successfully breastfeed your newborn baby, use breast pumps and transition to returning to work while breastfeeding. 239594-0400. or email FBCNaples@gmail. com

Wednesday, March 14 Hands-On Pie Making » 9 a.m. The Local, 5323 Airport Pulling Road, Naples. Celebrate National Pi Day by learning to make pie. $35 per person. Register at 239-596-3276. Symphony Story Time » 10-11 a.m. Fort Myers Regional Library, 2450 First St., Fort Myers. For ages 5 and younger.


« calendar The librarian reads a music-related story, and a Gulf Coast Symphony musician provides accompaniment and an introduction to their instrument.

Thursday, March 15 PalmArt Playshop: Easter Baskets » 6 p.m. Alliance for the Arts, 10091 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers. For ages 12 and older. $20 for members, $25 for nonmembers. Learn how to make beautiful, useful and durable stuff using natural and recycled materials that might be in your own backyard.

Friday, March 16

Broadway Palm, 1380 Colonial Blvd., Fort Myers. This free, immersive education experience delves into the instrument families that comprise the orchestra. For grades K-6. Combines age-appropriate performances and Q&A sessions with hands-on opportunities for children to see, hear, touch and play symphonic instruments. This event will focus on the woodwind family of the orchestra.

Monday, March 19 Musical Magic Carpet Ride » 6:30 p.m. Fort Myers Regional Library, 2450 First St., Fort Myers. Emmy and Peabody Awardwinning composer, flutist, storyteller and lecturer Kat Epple plays indigenous flutes that she has collected from her travels around the world. She’ll also talk about her musical adventures.

Village of Estero’s 3rd Anniversary Party » 6-9 p.m. Estero Community Park, 9200 Corkscrew Palms Blvd., Estero. The Village of Estero celebrates its third anniversary this year with a party for the entire family. There will be face painting and other children’s activities, a variety of food and entertainment and dancing with music by Billy Dean & Dawn.

Spring into Camp » March 19-23 and 30. Calusa Nature Center & Planetarium, 3450 Ortiz Ave., Fort Myers. $45 per day for nonmembers, $35 per day for members. Explore the nature trails, museum and planetarium. Drop-off is at 9 a.m. Pick-up is 4 p.m. Extended care available.

Saturday, March 17

Symphony Story Time » 10 a.m. Cape Coral Public Library, 921 S.W. 39th Terrace, Cape Coral. For ages 5 and younger. The librarian reads a music-related story, and a Gulf Coast Symphony musician provides accompaniment and an introduction to their instrument.

Fort Myers Derby Girls vs. Revolution Roller Derby » 6-8 p.m. Fort Myers Skatium, 2250 Broadway, Fort Myers. The first home bout of the 2018 roller derby season. Familyfriendly. $10 in advance, $12 at the door. Benefits Eva’s Closet. Movement & Breath for Labor » 3-4:30 p.m. The Family Birth Center of Naples, 2930 Immokalee Road, Suite 2, Naples. $25 in advance, $30 at the door. Join Cheryl Bernardi with LifeBehold to prepare your mind and body for labor and birth through movement and breathing exercises. 239-248-7931. or email LifeBehold@gmail. com Musical Discovery Zone » 11 a.m. Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples, aka C’mon, 15080 Livingston Road, Naples. Children (and adults!) meet several musicians from the orchestra and try playing some of the instruments. “The Gingerbread Man and the Leprechaun Loose at School” Storytime » 11 a.m. Three Barnes & Noble locations: Coconut Point, 23130 Fashion Drive, Estero; Waterside Shops, 5377 Tamiami Trail, Naples; 13751 Tamiami Trail, south Fort Myers. A mischievous leprechaun is causing all kinds of trouble at school, but Gingerbread Man is back to save the day. Activities to follow.

Sunday, March 18 Madisen’s Match » March 18-19. The fundraiser starts with Olympic gold medalists Bob and Mike Bryan as headliners at the 10th Anniversary Gala Celebration and Auction at 6 p.m. March 18. At 8:45 a.m. March 19 is the Madisen’s Match Legends Tennis Camp followed by the Tennis Pro-Am at 1 p.m. Then at 6 p.m. is the Golisano Children’s Hospital Pro Tennis Classic, the region’s first indoor tennis event. Get times and locations at Orchestra Explorer Series: Woodwinds » 2 p.m.


Tuesday, March 20

Wednesday, March 21 Nutrition Class » 7-8:30 p.m. The Family Birth Center of Naples, 2930 Immokalee Road, Suite 2, Naples. Nutrition for pregnancy, lactation, postpartum and family. 239-594-0400. Register by emailing

Friday, March 23 Boogie Bash » 6 p.m. Grey Oaks Country Club, 2400 Grey Oaks Drive, North Naples. Friends of Foster Children Forever fundraiser. Date night to help foster children. Guests are encouraged to dress in their favorite decade attire from the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s or ’80s. Cocktail reception, dinner, raffle and live auction. Entertainment provided by Pzazz Productions and their high-energy dancers plus, dance to the Society Hill band presented by Brett Foreman. Tickets are $275 per person or $375 per patron. 239-262-1808.

Saturday, March 24 2018 Healthy Living Expo » 9 a.m. Cypress Lake United Methodist Church, 8570 Cypress Lake Drive, Fort Myers. Join the Healthy Living Caravan for fun-filled expo. Complimentary Health Screenings include: vision, hearing, balance, BMI, blood pressure, skin cancer and spinal screenings. Health and wellness education from more than 50 vendors with tons of giveaways and raffle prizes. Free. CalusaCon » 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Calusa Nature Center & Planetarium, 3450 Ortiz Ave., Fort Myers. $10 general admission includes entry for Cosplay Contest, free for children younger than 11. VIP ticket is $20. Platinum ticket is $50. Meet sci-fi and fantasy actors, favorite droids and characters, the Bandit car from

calendar » “Smokey and the Bandit,” and more. Exhibitors cater to a widespectrum of interests, including comic books, magazines, toys, games, movies, television, anime, manga, cosplay, artwork, sketches and apparel. Includes Kids’ Zone. Collier County Library System 60th Anniversary Celebration » 9 a.m.-3 p.m. This progressive anniversary party starts at 9 a.m. at the Naples Regional Library. There’ll be games for all ages, snacks and a face painter. Then, at 11 a.m., the Headquarters Library will have a sock hop dance and cake until 2 p.m. Then, from 1 to 3 p.m., the South Regional Library will have music, refreshments, comedy and magic. Family Easter Event » 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Golden Gate Community Center, 4701 Golden Gate Parkway, Naples. $3. Play Easter-themed games and visit with the Easter Bunny. Bring a basket to collect winnings and a camera for pictures with the Bunny. 239-252-4180. “Little Blue Truck’s Springtime” Storytime » 11 a.m. Three Barnes & Noble locations: Coconut Point, 23130 Fashion Drive, Estero; Waterside Shops, 5377 Tamiami Trail, Naples; 13751 Tamiami Trail, south Fort Myers. Celebrate the beauty of springtime with Little Blue Truck. Young fans will love finding all sorts of baby animals beneath the flaps in this novelty board book. Activities to follow.


Sound Minds Mental Health Symposium » 3-5 p.m. Moorings Presbyterian Church, 791 Harbour Drive, Naples. Suggested Donation: $10. Take a dive into how parents are raising children in a digital age and the effects on mental health. The David Lawrence Center’s fifth annual Sound Minds Mental Health Symposium features the screening of Delaney Ruston’s award-winning film “Screenagers.” The screening is followed by a discussion with the film’s executive producer, Lisa Tabb. The symposium is designed to bring parents, grandparents, healthcare professionals, educators and kids together for a meaningful dialogue that leads to personal revelation and powerful, positive change in homes, schools and communities. Spring Vendor & Craft Fair with Free Egg Hunt & Easter Bunny » 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Jaycee Park, 4125 20th Place, Cape Coral. Free. Vendors, crafters, egg hunt (pre-registration for egg hunt starts March 10), Easter Bunny (11 a.m.-1 p.m.), face painting, food trucks, live music and more. localladiessouthflorida

Sunday, March 25 Baby Boot Camp at Millennial » 11 a.m. Millennial Brewing Company, 1811 Royal Palm Ave., Fort Myers. Join in a full body, all levels Baby Boot Camp class. Stay for Family Day. GoldenFest IX » 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Doggy Heaven at the Shell Factory & Nature Park, 2787 N. Tamiami Trail, North Fort Myers. Free. Celebrate the family dog at this Golden Retriever Rescue of Southwest Florida event. There’ll be pet vendors, dog dock diving, pet portraits, a grooming booth, raffles, auctions, a GRRSWF Korean dog reunion tent and more. Well-mannered, leashed dogs are welcome. 239-369-0415.

Monday, March 26 Wellfit Girls Event with National Teen Advocate Chessy Prout » 7-9 p.m. Venue Naples, 13240 Tamiami Trail N.,

Naples. Wellfit Girls, a Southwest Florida nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering teen girls, brings national teen advocate and author Chessy Prout, a former Naples resident, along with co-author Jenn Abelson, an investigative reporter for the Boston Globe’s Spotlight Team. At 7 p.m., Prout will share her inspiring story following the traumatic aftermath of her sexual assault at a prestigious New Hampshire boarding school. Recognized as among those who planted the seeds for the #MeToo movement when she came forward in her pursuit of justice, Prout’s book, “I Have the Right To: A High School Survivor’s Story of Sexual Assault, Justice and Hope,” is available March 6. In August of 2015, Prout bravely revealed her identity on NBC’s Today Show and became a national advocate for sexual assault survivors while still in high school at the Community School of Naples, where she graduated in 2017. General admission is $50 for the speaking event at 7 p.m. Before the event, Wellfit Girls hosts a VIP cocktail reception and meet-and-greet with Prout and Abelson ($150). 239-529-0366.

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Tuesday, March 27 Lexi at the Library » 10:30 a.m. Golden Gate Library, 2432 Lucerne Road, Naples. Lexi and her bunny friends will be at the library. Listen to the book “Lexi Lop and the Best Library Book Ever,” then meet, pet, feed and have your photo taken with these special English Lop bunnies.

Saturday, March 31 Breakfast with the Easter Bunny » 9 a.m. Miromar Outlets, 10801 Corkscrew Road, Estero. Kids can have breakfast and meet the Easter Bunny. Games and photo opportunities in the Restaurant Piazza. Breakfast is for children only, $5 per child. Coffee will be available for adults. Reservations required. Easter Cookie Decorating » Noon-2 p.m. Miromar Outlets, 10801 Corkscrew Road, Estero. Decorate a cookie for Easter in the WINK Playland. Eggs and Ears 5K » 8 a.m. Lakes Regional Park, 7330 Gladiolus Drive, Fort Myers. Benefits the Lakes Park Foundation. Family-friendly. Registration begins at 7 a.m., 5K starts at 8 a.m. Tot Trot 1 Mile Fun Run starts at 9 a.m. $25 in advance, $30 day of event for adults, free for ages 18 and younger Photos with the Easter Bunny » 11 a.m. Miromar Outlets, 10801 Corkscrew Road, Estero. Have your professional photograph taken with the Easter Bunny, by Dick Parrish Photography, in Suite 182. Princess and Pirates Night » 7 p.m. Germain Arena, 11000 Everblades Parkway, Estero. Enjoy Princess and Pirates Night as the Everblades hockey team takes on the Atlanta Gladiators. Tickets are $15; $5 of each ticket benefits Safe Kids Southwest Florida. Go to and use code SAFE. “The Duckling Gets a Cookie!?” Storytime » 11 a.m.



« calendar

Celebrating Since 1951

All Ages

Classical Ballet Pointe Modern Tap Jazz Hip Hop Acrobatics Children’s Work

(239)334-3274 NEWBORN CARE

Three Barnes & Noble locations: Coconut Point, 23130 Fashion Drive, Estero; Waterside Shops, 5377 Tamiami Trail, Naples; 13751 Tamiami Trail, south Fort Myers. The Duckling asks for a cookie, and gets it! How do you think Pigeon feels about that? Activities to follow.

Monday, April 2 Beginners Guide to Kayaking » 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve, East end of Southeast 23 Terrace, Cape Coral. Learn basic paddle strokes from an experienced GAEA guide. $40 includes kayak use. 239-549-4606.

Thursday, April 5 Illusionist Rick Thomas » 8 p.m. Southwest Florida Event Center, 11515 Bonita Beach Road S.E., Bonita Springs. $38$68. 239-245-9910.

Friday, April 6 PRESCHOOL

Stars on Ice » 7:30 p.m. Germain Arena, 11000 Everblades Parkway, Estero. $28-$153 for tickets; $15 for parking. See some of the best U.S. figure skaters in an all-new Stars on Ice show, including Nathan Chen, Ashley Wagner, Maia and Alex Shibutani, Karen Chen, Jason Brown and Meryl Davis and Charlie White. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Saturday, April 7 Insane Inflatable 5K » 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. JetBlue Park at Fenway South, 11500 Fenway South Drive, Fort Myers. $49$79. Make your way through about 3 miles of this inflatables obstacle course. Participants must be at least 42 inches tall. RESALE & CONSIGNMENT

NephCure Walk » 10 a.m. Jaycee Park, 4125 S.E. 20th Place, Cape Coral. Free, donations accepted. Family fun, music and more. The NephCure program provides support for people touched by Nephrotic Syndrome and FSGS. Walk starts at 11 a.m.

Sunday, April 8 Taste of the Cape » Noon-6 p.m. Four Freedoms Park, 4818 Tarpon Court, Cape Coral. Sample an international array of food from more than 20 local restaurants, plus a variety of craft beers, margaritas and wine. Live music from local bands and the Symphony at Sunset by the Gulf Coast Symphony.

Friday, April 13 Disney On Ice: Reach For The Stars » 10:30 a.m. Germain Arena, 11000 Everblades Parkway, Estero. $25-$105 for tickets; parking is $10. Disney On Ice returns with “Reach for the Stars.”

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Maisy Adams is a Southwest Florida writer, doctoral student, wife and new mom. Follow her parenting musings and everyday adventures at


Losing my identity Having a baby changes everything. Will it change me?

Photo by Dulce Ruiz Photogra



rior to having my daughter, I was, to say the least, a little bit terrified that I was going to completely lose my identity after becoming a mother. Even while writing this, I still feel a huge amount of guilt for being concerned about this. Being a mother is a huge honor, but I have worked my whole life to carve out my identity as a human being. Was this one new title going to wipe all of that away? Would I forever just be Amelia’s mom now instead of Maisy? The fear ran through me as intensely as the contractions I was having in the hospital. Don’t get me wrong, I was elated about becoming a mother. I’ve wanted to be a mom my whole life, but I’ve had other lifelong dreams also. Was I going to lose my shot at these? On March 1, 2017, I saw my daughter’s face for the first time, and my life was forever changed. This tiny, amazing creature shook my world. The first two months of her life were a sleepless blur, but eventually we got into our routine. She’s a year old now, and I haven’t lost my identity. If anything, I am more motivated now than I ever have been to achieve my dreams. I’m setting an example for her, like my mom did for me. Mom guilt is a thing that’s real — and unfair. I’m sure that’s what I was feeling prior to her birth when I was

worried about losing my identity. If I don’t give everything in my soul to my daughter, what kind of terrible mother am I? I couldn’t have been any more wrong about this. Motherhood is so many things. One thing it’s not going to be for me is all-consuming. Don’t get me wrong, when I’m momming, I go hard at momming. I give it all I’ve got. When she needs me, I’m there. There are times, though, when mommy needs to get out of the house and have some adult conversation. There are times when mommy needs to meet with other mommies and have coffee and decompress. There are times when mommy just needs to lay in the bathtub in complete silence. In these

times, mommy retains her identity. So many things go on in a new mom’s brain, so many thoughts and fears. I was afraid to talk about this, and I don’t think it should be that way. It’s so much easier when we can talk to each other about these things, but we’re afraid. We’re afraid of looking like bad moms or looking ungrateful to be moms. We’re afraid to be vulnerable to one another. Life is hard. Momming is hard. Let’s talk about it. Find a friend and tell them how you’re feeling. You never know who else might be going through the same thing and afraid to talk. Be kind, baby mommas and future baby mommas. It’s hard out there, and we’re all just doing the best we can.


» a father’s view


Jim Dwyer is a Southwest Florida father of three boys.



rowing up in the Chicago suburbs in the late ’70s, my brothers and I shared a good group of friends. We lived in a small village and went to a small primary school, and we all ended up hanging out together. My brother’s friends became my friends and mine became theirs. When we entered a much larger high school, we maintained this closeness as brothers and friends, and the new ones we made were brought into the fold. In the time since, life has happened. Slowly we got jobs, met our spouses, married, had children, changed jobs and moved out of the area. We had less time with each other, but through it all, we remembered with fondness those innocent days of our youth spent together and found reasons to keep in touch. Eight years ago, a plan to get us all together for a long weekend formed. Some are in Florida and some are in Chicago, so a trip to Fort Lauderdale at the end of winter seemed a great idea.


We arrived over the course of a Thursday afternoon and eventually had a group of a dozen. That began an annual tradition, and we have been meeting up in Lauderdale once a year ever since. It is a favorite weekend for all of us when we take time to decompress, forget about our daily struggles and simply hang out with our friends. We fall back into stories about grade school and high school as the natural comfort of lifelong friends wraps around us. We talk about the teachers, the other students and the parish priest. We retell stories about when we got in trouble and when we somehow didn’t get caught. Our jobs, our wives, our kids and our lives are all on the table. Sometimes there are serious moments as we catch up with each other. Mostly we laugh and celebrate great friendships built on the foundation of history and grown with the time spent together over these many years. This year as I was celebrating with my friends, I heard from my oldest son who is in college. He asked what I was up to, and when I told him, he replied, “Me too!”

It turns out that on that same weekend, he had some friends from grade school and high school who were visiting his college, and they were all going to hang out and relive old memories. He was so excited about seeing his friends, which was why he reached out to tell me. I heard from my 16-year-old son also, whose plan for the weekend was to “hang with my crew,” a group of friends that he has had since he was about 8 years old. They are still building that foundation of friendship that has served me for a lifetime, spending countless hours together and creating memories they will surely relive later. I have a great group of friends whom I cherish. I look at the friends that all of my boys have and I already see that connection that is born in youth and can last a lifetime if nurtured and fed. My hope for them is that they find themselves in 30 years, still friends and meeting up with each other to tell stories from these early moments together. I just hope there aren’t too many stories about the times they didn’t get caught!


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• More than 70 pediatric specialists and 400 speciallytrained pediatric nurses • One of the top ranked Regional Perinatal Intensive Care Centers in Florida • A diagnostic and MRI suite with pediatric sedation center • Pediatric emergency department • The area’s only dedicated hematology/oncology program Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida 9981 S. HealthPark Drive Fort Myers, FL 33908

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SWFL Parent & Child Magazine March 2018  

Southwest Florida Parent & Child is a monthly magazine for parents in Lee and Collier counties.

SWFL Parent & Child Magazine March 2018  

Southwest Florida Parent & Child is a monthly magazine for parents in Lee and Collier counties.